2016-07-28 / Around Town

FabNewport Coach Embarks on New Project

By James Merolla

Nick Logler, an inspiration for youth since FabNewport opened, will head to Africa next month. (Photo by James Merolla) Nick Logler, an inspiration for youth since FabNewport opened, will head to Africa next month. (Photo by James Merolla) An award-winning documentary that might have featured Nick Logler, given the similar kind of success he generates with children, will be shown locally just one day before Fab Newport's coach departs for greater international challenges.

FabNewport will host a screening of the film, "Most Likely to Succeed," on Aug. 14, which chronicles the kind of hands-on interdisciplinary learning that the nonprofit group has brought to hundreds of local youth.

The next day, island native Logler, FabNewport’s inaugural employee, head coach and technical director, will head for Africa to begin working toward his Ph.D. In Rwanda, Logler will research the idea that maker station learning transforms lives and communities as he pursues his doctorate through the University of Washington.

A maker station, according to the official website, is a “collaborative, shared workspace (makerspace or hackerspace) where curious and like-minded individuals come together to work on projects, discover new areas of interest, develop a new business idea, or simply grow their personal hobbies.”

Logler, 29, has been transforming the educational process via maker stations since 2013. He has coached hundreds of students in public and private schools, and has guided dozens of educators through professional development.

FabNewport, benefiting from Logler’s expertise, is responsible for establishing maker spaces in many of Aquidneck Island’s independent school libraries, among them St. George’s School, St. Michael’s Country Day School, All Saints Academy, and St. Philomena’s School.

According to fabnewport.org, a fab lab (fabrication laboratory) is a community workshop where people combine technology and materials to make just about anything. The concept began at MIT, and there are now more than 150 of these kinds of shops worldwide.

Students of all ages have had access to computers, design tools, manufacturing software, a 3-D printer, a laser cutter, a vinyl cutter, electronic devices, power tools, hand tools, rubber, plastic, wood, acrylic, wiring, and paper, as well as a team of people to help them hone their concepts into posters, art, jewelry, maps, toys, and anything else that is conceivable.

“Most Likely to Succeed,” Logler explained, has been screened in every state. It centers on education reform, examining different schools to determine what makes them successful.

“The film describes interdisciplinary learning and how it helps students take charge, be engaged, inventive and inspired,” said Fab- Newport’s Executive Director Steven Heath. It is also a reflection of FabNewport’s mission and Logler’s time at the helm.

Logler attended Loyola University in Baltimore, and spent some time in Ghana as an undergraduate. After a year with AmeriCorps, he earned a master’s degree from American University in Washington, D.C. His work in Rwanda will involve research, and he will create a repository of interviews conducted through the Rwandan Post-Genocide Tribunals.

“I’ll be working for the next four to six years between Washington state and Rwanda, recording the voices at the trials, documenting their lives and their experiences,” he said. “I’m very excited about this opportunity.”

Logler said his three years under Heath in establishing and growing FabNewport has been an “amazing” experience. “I came here from D.C. and connected with Steve to figure out if a maker space or a fab lab could even be a thing. It snowballed from there.”

At the Florence Gray fab lab, Logler pointed to the computer modeling equipment that students use to turn ideas into three-dimensional products. He was surrounded by kids using laser cutters, all eager to dive into the fray from a dozen different angles.

“They turn ideas into reality. It is problem solving,” said Logler. “How does the process transform a community? How does it transform an individual?”

He called his time at the Florence Gray Center an “incredible journey. It is always important to see what people can do with access, space and tools. They can do amazing things if you let them do it and just get out of the way.”

The Aug. 14 documentary screening will be held at the Casino Theatre at 6 p.m. It will begin with a Maker Party at 5 p.m. For more information, call 401-439-0160 or visit fabnewport.org.

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