GeoFablab : a Third Place project to experience the "Living Earth"

A new concept to meet the challenges of the energy and environmental transition
GeoFabLab 2023

Project concept

The Earth and its environment are subject to rapid and profound changes directly and indirectly caused by human activities. At the heart of a society where global warming and resource shortages or their poor exploitation threaten ecosystems and society itself, students and the socio-economical world.The European Union has a strong role to play in the energy and environmental transition. Meeting the challenges of the energy and environmental transition requires the training of experts capable of analysing in an integrated way the functioning of the Earth, proposing scientific approaches resulting from new research, as well as engineering solutions and innovative techniques to environmental issues.

an innovative educational tool

In this perspective, the Third Place project proposed by the OSUR Rennes Geosciences Laboratory at the University of Rennes 1 - dubbed "GeoFablab" - aims to create an open space and exchanges around experimental modelling, virtual reality and low-cost sensors in Environment and Earth Sciences. The GeoFablab aims to promote the exchange of practices and skills between students, teachers, researchers, technical staff and the general public. This space will allow its users, like startup incubators, to mature their projects and confront them with "experts" and the laws governing the dynamics of natural environments. This Third Place will also allow students to participate in experimental research projects by placing them in an active and collaborative training position. In addition, the GeoFablab can serve as a privileged place to host experimental TPs. Virtual reality devices will allow participants to project on geological terrain, visualize rock samples and perform measurements.In a difficult economic context where university training must be strengthened and reinvented, the GeoFablab will thus make it possible to increase the attractiveness and visibility of training in Earth Sciences and Environment . This unique structure in France will represent a "head of poster" for our training, relying on a know-how around measurement and experimentation, representing a historic trademark of research in Rennes in Earth Sciences.

New links with socio-economic actors, training and mediation

But this project must be able to go beyond academic training and reach audiences beyond the university. To do this, our partnership ambition is great: we plan to strengthen our already close collaboration with the Maison pour la Science with whom we have already been working for ten years, with training for teachers of schools and secondary school teachers who will be able to benefit greatly from such a place of experimentation, which is quite central in their pedagogical approach (see below the video "Is tap water a source?"). A partnership with the Espace des Sciences de Rennes (CCSTI de Rennes) and the Rennes branch of the association Les Petits débrouillards is strongly envisaged: it will be based on more than two decades of educational exchanges and co-productions.

The "Living Earth" aspect of GeoFablab, through its link with the Geology Museum, will play the role of "demonstrator" with the general public to illustrate the growing importance of geological and environmental processes on our societies (risks, resources, land management). We also want to associate the GeoFablab with the networks of French and Rennes fablabs, but also with the international network OPEnS ( Openly Published Environmental Sensing), pioneer in the open development of environmental sensors. A research/action project to develop and deploy smart environmental sensor networks has already been certified by Géosciences Rennes/OSUR: TERRA FORMA, led by Laurent Longuevergne, is the 2020 winner of the "Com'Lab" scheme support for CNRS scientific mediation projects. The two projects - complementary - will naturally feed each other.

Come and join us!

The GeoFablab project is an ambitious, original, future project, but above all to be co-built, with multiple partners from very different horizons. This diversity will be its wealth.

Are you interested in this project?
Contact Philippe Steer, the project leader

Project in January 2023: sketches of the "aquarium" of building 5 (campus of Beaulieu) by the studio Crystelle Terrasson

Projet GeoFabLab