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Finnish Fab Lab network Bootcamp at Oulu

August 28th to September 1st 2023 

Three participants from Raseko took part in Oulu Bootcamp. Myself, service advisor Antti Juopperi, teacher Susanna Sallinen from textile and fashion department, and teacher Öyvind Strömsvik from digital fabrication. 

First day at Bootcamp started at Hintta elementary school, Fab Lab Koklaamo. Hintta is a design school that follows STEAM mindset and focuses on design learning process from first grade onward. Studies focus on strengthening students’ problem solving skills, and encourage creative thinking and long-term oriented focus on one’s work. Learning is achieved via projects taking advantage of cyclical process where project moves from stage to stage in structured way. The students are given projects that vary in difficulty based on their age. Each project begins by research and getting familiar with the subject. Next phase is brainstorming and design, followed by experimenting and manufacture phase. Last phase is sharing and grading, when the work is presented to the other groups and students give and recieve feedback. 

A group of people in a workshop.

Fab Lab and makerspace thinking are a perfect fit for design school, and help in creating concrete projects. Design learning process has resulted in such great end products the school has opened their own online shop, and brand Hintta Design. The online shop is run by students in optional entrepreneur studies class, and overseen by parents’ association. 

One of the more recent projects that has ended up with sellable products is a jewelry line inspired by loose candy. Students make the pieces with laser cutter from plywood painted with safe pastel colours. In addition to the online shop, students also manage a stall with Hintta Design products at nearby grocery store. 

We got to familiarise ourselves with the school’s process by taking part in fast design and prototyping exercise where we designed a model for a modern lean-to out of ingredients found in small kits made for this excercise. The exercise was based on larger scale project completed with school’s students. Groups of students came up with designs for outdoors learning area. These designs were processed further with the aid of an architecture professor from Oulu University, and the modern lean-to is getting built to school grounds. 

Models of a modern summerhouse on the table.

Finally we also got to make our own loose candy pieces of jewelry with students from Hintta teaching us how to assemble the jewelry. Hintta design school was an extremely inspiring environment. It was amazing to see how STEAM thinking (approach to learning where creative thinking is at the center of everything) has been integrated seamlessly to studies and functions as the basis. It was also wonderful to witness Koklaamo makerspace as integral part of the school’s everyday life. 

We continued the day at Oulu BusinessAsema. BusinessAsema offers a wide variety of services to small businesses and entrepreneurs, unemployed people, immigrants and people in search of new networks and connections. Fab Lab and BusinessAsema is one of the services on offer. The facilities at Fab Lab are freely usable by anyone. Facilities and machines could be booked by any individual, and material use is free within reason. A big target demographic for Fab Lab BusinessAsema is unemployed people, and it’s an amazing opportunity for someone looking to further their skills whether you’re unemployed and learning a new tradeskill, or starting entrepreneur creating prototypes and marketing materials. 

A variety of models on a shelf.

The second day we got to familiarise ourselves with the Fab Lab at Oulu University. Here we also had our monthly meeting of the Finnish Fab Lab network. Oulu University Fab Lab was great for inspiration on how to improve the facilities at our own Fab Lab at Raseko. Ideas for improved material storage and how to improve instructions were major takeaways. 

We also got to visit the natural site of Koitelinkoski rapids, which was also very inspirational in a very different way, and a refreshing break from the city life! From the rapids we made our way to Vesala school at Ylikiiminki. Fab Lab Vesala functions as an active part of the local village community, in addition to the schoolwork they do. They take part in activities where members of the local community get to learn and benefit from digital manufacturing. As in Hintta, Vesala also centers their teaching methods in STEAM learning. As well as the more modern Fab Lab, the school also had great facilities for traditional handicrafts. 

A summer river landscape.

As a project at Vesala, we familiarised ourselves with AI art. This was done via group project with the students, teachers, and Bootcamp participants. The recreational area at school lobby was being renovated, and we were tasked with coming up with appropriate prompts to create art that could be used in this recreational area. 

Here we also got to experiment with sublimation printing. This printer can be used to transfer high quality prints into various objects. It was possible to make coffee mugs, mouse pads, key chains and other objects with your own designs. 

The last day of Bootcamp began at Oulu University where we prepared materials for Oulu kylässä event happening at Kuusisaari later that day. We used laser cutter to make felt cutouts based on the Toripoliisi (The Bobby at the Market Place) bronze statue that could then be turned into reflectors. After lunch we made our way to Kuusisaari. The area already had several tents and the event was rapidly approachíng its beginning. At the Fab Lab tent people could make their own Toripoliisi reflectors, and create images using AI generative art to then print onto objects with sublimation printer. Raseko delegation had to head towards home at this point, but we later heard that the Fab Lab tent was the only one that had a queue outside the whole event! 

Three people examining the device.

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