Beam strives to cultivate long-term partnerships with NYC public schools to bring a culture of creation, collaboration, and inspiration to under-resourced communities. We work closely with principals and classroom teachers to identify and develop hands-on projects that engage students and make learning more tangible. These projects range from in-class activities that develop over several weeks to more intensive school-wide initiatives that unfold over a full semester. 

In 2016, we launched Beam’s first in-school FabLab, an advanced digital fabrication laboratory with cutting-edge tools and resources, at Brooklyn International High School. From 2017-2019, we are building 5 more in-school FabLabs in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Red Hook, Sunset Park, Downtown Brooklyn, and Gowanus.

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Digital Poetry Machine

The Brooklyn International High School Digital Poetry Machine is an interdisciplinary project that combines Physics, English, electronics, and programming. Magnetic lasercut words create poems that are posted to Twitter with the press of a button. Students learned basic woodworking, circuitry, the Python programming language, and how to interface Arduino microcontrollers with the Twitter API. While utilizing these skills, they also developed their familiarity with the English language by analyzing poetry, as well as their understanding of magnetism and circuitry.

Battle Of Brooklyn 

Fourth grade students at Brooklyn School of Inquiry researched the Battle of Brooklyn. Based on their research, they created a topographical strategy table, complete with moveable soldiers that they designed and lasercut. In addition, they created secret envelope books containing "letters home," written from the perspective of historical figures. Using all the things they made, the students reenacted the Battle of Brooklyn in a stop motion animation! 

Funktions Visualizer

The Funktions Visualizer, created with students at Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School, displays algebraic functions using light-boxes as "pixels." Students each built a pixel. These were combined and programmed to become a large-scale graphing calculator. Students played "Guess the Function" challenge games to engage directly and physically with mathematic concepts.

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Connected Teaching

Connected Teaching helps NYC teachers augment their specific academic curriculum with Beam Center’s project-based learning approach. Teachers learn to work with tools, materials and methods by collaborating with Beam Center Instructors to create personalized projects. Teachers develop experiences for their students that explore scientific ideas, design, and engineering processes. Beam Center Instructors share their expertise in a variety of disciplines:

  • Making: Carpentry, Metalwork, Mechanics, Electronics, Ceramics, Video • Design: Vector drawing, 3D modeling, Digital simulations

  • Digital Fabrication: Laser cutting, 3D printing

  • Physical Computing: Arduino, Raspberry Pi

  • Programming: Processing, Scratch, Netlogo

  • Soft circuits: Makey Makey, Lilypad, e-textiles


One-day training sessions in which teachers participate in hands-on workshops that include coding, data visualization, electronics, woodwork, digital fabrication, and wearable technology.

A three-day training session in which teachers collaborate with Beam Center Instructors to design and prototype a curriculum-aligned classroom project. Teachers work towards integrating subject knowledge into an activity, identifying learning outcomes, and coordinating the classroom schedule.

Teachers have elevated their practice, as they are able to bring new projects to life with the technical and design support of Beam’s artists and engineers.
— Kathleen Rucker, BIHS Principal


The FabLab Initiative brings digital fabrication laboratories and Beam programming to NYC public schools. Our first FabLab was established at Brooklyn International High School in 2016, and we will launch in 5 new schools in 2017 in neighborhoods like Bedford-Stuyvesant, Red Hook and Sunset Park.

A FabLab is a workshop of manual and cutting-edge tools that serves as a platform for project-based learning and teaching. FabLabs link art, design and technology to expand the notions and applicability of science, math and engineering. FabLabs feature: 

  • laser cutters

  • 3D printers

  • design software

  • computers

  • electronics equipment

  • basic shop tools and more!

Digital fabrication machines in schools allow students to experience the process of innovation and collaboration while integrating knowledge gained in the classroom.

FabLab Schools Brooklyn International High School (2016) • Nelson Mandela High School for Social Justice • West Brooklyn Community High School • South Brooklyn Community High School • M.S.442

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Brooklyn International High School • West Brooklyn Community High School • South Brooklyn Community High School • East Brooklyn Community High School • Nelson Mandela High School for Social Justice • International High School at Prospect Heights • Brooklyn School of Inquiry • M.S.442 • P.S. 157 The Benjamin Franklin Health & Science Academy • M.S. 582 The Magnet School for Multimedia Technology and Urban Planning  • P.S. 120  • P.S. 240 •
P.S. 130 • Urban Assembly Unison Middle School


Manhattan International High School • Urban Assembly School for Design and Construction • NYC Lab Middle School

Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School • Bronx International High School • South Bronx International Middle School

International High School of Health Sciences • M.S. 217 Robert A. Van Wyck  • I.S. 145  • P.S. 62