I'm not sure if it already sounds anachronistic to talk about 'shop class,' but I have vague memories of a wacky middle school Metals teacher and an altogether incongruous Printing elective at my high school. The equipment was invariably second- (or third-, fourth-, nth-)hand, long-patina'd with wheezy nostalgia—this was New England, after all—and the dubious tutelage at the calloused hands of gruff semi-retired tradesmen relegated this sort of education squarely to the bygone days of yore.
Which is precisely why a new project by a team of Stanford d.school students is so interesting: they're looking to introduce new generations of young minds—future designers and otherwise—to a new generation of young technologies. In short, "Sparklab is a big red truck filled with cutting-edge maker tools that goes from school to school, bringing the joy of building back to kids."
The Kickstarter project is the culmination of a yearlong thesis project for an enthusiastic crew of 20-something makers with the savoir-faire to realize the potential of 21st century fabrication tools not just for making things but for education as well. If the idea of a mobile shop class isn't appealing enough as it is, they have the blessing of IDEO Founder (and d.school prof) David Kelley.
Thus, Sparklab is a worthy response to Sir Ken Robinson's challenge to "rethink the fundamental principles on which we're educating our children" by elevating creativity to the same status as literacy as a foundation of education. Speaking of TED, Robinson's imminently quotable 2006 Talk is a must-see call-to-arms about education reform.
An early teaser for Sparklab