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NL SECTOR

ONE LAB

by Kate Meersschaert

October 21, 2013

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It began as an extraordinary think tank of mid-career architects, engineers, media artists, biologists, ecologists, robotics experts, industrial designers, urban agriculturists, physicists, inventors and planners seeking alternatives to traditional forms of teaching and professional practice. (from the One Lab site)

"Urbaneer" Education
Started in 2009 and known as the "New York School for Design + Science" ONE LAB, is an urban non-profit group uniquely focused on peer-to-peer, DIY learning across the disciplines of science and design. In stark contrast to the growing trend towards online learning for informal professional development and casual learning, ONE LAB, strives to unite both education and research to, "be the best independent design and science school in the most innovative and intense city" and "create an interdisciplinary knowledge platform for the cross-pollination of ideas within urban communities," while "educat(ing) the next generation of design innovators for a world culture." Through an innovative in-person program comprised of studio classes, workshops and real-world, hands-on design experiences that help participants to develop their "technological design language" and break-free of the traditional "silos" present in formal educational and professional settings, ONE LAB is on their way to creating what they are calling an "urbaneer" ready to tackle the unique design challenges of "The City 2.0."

STEM Innovation in In-person Learning
After a veritable "STEMpede" of interest in growing the skilled US STEM workforce, programs like ONE LAB standout as a refreshing, non-profit approach. While the long-term success of the program remains to be seen, the model is a unique approach to informal science learning. With over 200 hundred full-time students who have attended ONE LAB summer lectures, workshops and courses, the program is a true testament to the potential for a "DIY" model of science education. The program, located at the Metropolitan Exchange building in Downtown Brooklyn, New York, has recently grown to include year-round courses.

Partnering with the Private Sector
Current partners include Macro Sea Inc., a NYC-based real-estate development firm that is partnering with ONE LAB to transform the Brooklyn Navy Yard Turbine Building #128, into a "collaborative design and technology center that encourages inventiveness." ONE LAB will then join forces with a number of design-focused groups to work in partnership with the NYC Mayor’s Office to further develop the Brooklyn Navy Yard. This unique partnership is yet another example of how ONE LAB is helping to take science education even further out of the formalized classroom of decades past. Gone are the beakers, boring slides and lectures, and in their place, are immersive design experiences that are more aligned with science standards of the distant future than the current Common Core. Lets hope ONE LAB’s "silo breaker zone" extends beyond NY and provides a model for other programs who want to unite science, design and a DIY design experience.

Image: ONE LAB site