Case Studies

Inside The Innovation Lab at the Betchel Family Education Center, Monterey Bay Aquarium
Publication I December 22, 2023
The case study describes how the  Innovation Lab in the Bechtel Family Center impacts students and educators through the Design of an equity-focused, eco-centric maker program for educators using the Liberatory Design.
December, 22nd 2023
Dr. Imène Ghernati
With the collaboration of Athena Barrios and Katy Scott
When I entered the Innovation Lab in the Bechtel Family Center for Ocean Education and Leadership, I knew I was in a creative space for STEAM educators and students. On one wall, a large sign read: “Anything made by humans can be re-made by YOU.” Near the entry carts, I marveled at the well-organized space, with bins filled with random objects: wooden beads, color-coded and labeled boxes, pipe cleaners, glue guns, and nuts and bolts. The bins are labeled with a rating system designed by interns, showing designers how environmentally sustainable each material is.

Along the walls, you can find sewing machines as well as 3D printers and a laser cutter. There is a full woodshop in a larger closet, along with salvaged lumber and bins filled with hardware. The walls also displayed cardboard techniques, safety rules, and safety badges mandatory when using the tools in the laboratory. The safety badge system has four levels. In the first level, a person can use the tool under supervision, and in level four, the person can supervise and train others. The entire organization promoted agency and empowerment. It felt like I was in Ali Baba’s cave with so much gold. Here, I wasn’t finding gold but rather something so much better, something that would allow educators to imagine new possibilities. On one of the walls, in full display, lies the Liberatory Design’s Framework—a flower with six petals. And this flower is what drew me to this place.

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