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Educators Get Their Hands Dirty at the Pittsburgh FAB Institute

Creating steampunk entomology art, deconstructing toys to learn systems-based thinking, and tearing apart crates to build something new were just a few of the activities that educators experienced at the Pittsburgh FAB Institute.

Twelve EdCorps Founders attended the FAB Institute.

Learning while Making

Since 2015, K-12 educators in Pittsburgh have been invited to the FAB Institute, a gathering focused on maker-based learning. The four-day session, hosted by Superintendent Todd Keruskin at the Elizabeth Forward School District and supported by the Grable Foundation and the Remake Learning Network, introduces teachers to maker technology and the maker movement – which is a contemporary take on the importance of creation within learning. By engaging in hands-on projects that allow them to create tangible products, students are able to experiment with technology, apply that technology to real-world settings, learn through the first-hand experiences, and of course, flex their creativity. At FAB Institute, over 150 educators became the students to discover the power of making, with twelve of the Pittsburgh EdCorps Founders in attendance and three offering keynotes or maker sessions.

JR Pilyih of Plum SD and Larry Sutton from Frazier SD share knowledge about Aquaponics.

Building Relationships

“This is the most relevant professional development that I attend all year,” said Sherrie Silvio, a 3-time FAB attendee, founder of Heroes With Heart, and educator at Bethlehem-Center Elementary. While the sessions are meaningful, part of the week includes building relationships with other teachers, like Larry Sutton and JR Pilyih, both EdCorps founders who use aquaponics within their student-run businesses.

Megan Smith and Maureen Frew facilitate a session during FAB.

Meaningful Making

Several members of the Pittsburgh EdCorps Community were part of making the FAB Institute a success. Megan Smith  [The (Ish)Co.] and Maureen Frew [JAM Enterprises], led educators through the coding of a game – including the creation of the game board using vinyl printing and acrylic laser cutting. In another popular session, Greg Schutz (educator and EdCorp Founder at Elizabeth High School) opened his fabrication shop to help teachers get their hands dirty creating personally meaningful projects. 

Cara Bates created a monogrammed planter box.


Jamie Forshey proudly shows a rustic sign she made.

Twitter was active through the FAB Institute week with educators sharing their experiences with personal learning networks. To see photos from the week and learn more, visit the #PittFAB18 in Twitter. To take part in the next FAB Institute, visit www.pghfab.org.

Just one of many Twitter posts during FAB Institute.