We researched the best materials for signs that could withstand outdoor weather, which turned out to be marine plywood for the signs, redwood for the posts, and outdoor acrylic paint for the lettering. [For a fascinating look into how marine plywood is made, watch this video.] Prior to their visit, students researched their plants and drew pictures of them using sharpies. In the Open Lab, they worked at various stations to scan their pictures on an iPad and send them to the laser cutter for "vector engraving." Each student also created a stencil on card stock and then painted in the letters on their wooden sign below their engraved drawing.
The students were engaged and excited throughout the process! And they were quite proud of their signs when they were done. Not only did they have a chance to learn about our digital and hand tools but we had the opportunity to learn from them about their creek plants (I learned that horsetail plants and cattail plants are often confused but that horsetail plants grow in meadows while cattail plants grow near water).
— Tatian Greenleaf