Living laboratories are about learning by doing. In that spirit, one of Roble’s main public spaces, its game room, will be converted during the 2017-18 academic year into a maker space focused on sustainability and art.
The room, filled with natural light and overlooking Lake Lagunita, will feature movable butcher-block work tables, plentiful storage space, lots of whiteboards, electrical outlets suspended from the ceiling, and a hard-surface floor on which messes are easy to clean up. Initial equipment will include easels and art supplies, a 3D printer, and a computer stocked with specialized software. Beyond that, the configuration of the maker space — and the tools and supplies to be bought with its operating budget — will be up to successive classes of Roble students.
A guiding aspiration of the Roble maker space will be resource efficiency, a foundational principle of sustainability. During the 2016-17 academic year, the Stanford project-management team in charge of designing and building the maker space met with Roble students interested in contributing their ideas. Among the student ideas that generated the greatest interest:
- Workshops in which students with knowledge of how to fix certain things (for instance, bikes or clothing, thus prolonging the goods’ useful life) or of how to build sustainability-related things (say, sensors to measure energy use in the dorm) teach those skills to interested other residents.
- Art workshops that focus on sustainability (for instance, painting about sustainability-related themes, and art of various media using found objects)
- Preparation of seeds or seedlings to be planted the Roble Organic Teaching Garden
- Gatherings in which Roble residents brainstorm and plan ROLLSS initiatives and activities
The maker space is likely to become one of the most popular spots in Roble. It will be, every day, a working platform for the sort of hands-on sustainability learning that is what the Roble Living Laboratory for Sustainability at Stanford is all about. It is also will be a lot of fun.