hat does a 3D printer do?
« A 3D printer builds a tangible model or prototype from the electronic file, one layer at a time, through an extrusion-like process using plastics and other flexible materials, or an inkjet-like process to spray a bonding agent onto a very thin layer of fixable powder. The deposits created by the machine can be applied very accurately to build an object from the bottom up, layer by layer, with resolutions that, even in the least expensive machines, are more than sufficient to express a large amount of detail.”
What are my initial thoughts in regards to 3D printing in schools?
I was not really interested in what this technology could do in the classroom before I heard that it might be coming at my children’s school. Then, I thought I should learn more about it before I draw conclusions.
I know basically nothing about it; it is hard for me to imagine how this can be used in a classroom to enhance the students’ learning. I am aware that you can print object using software, a 3D printer and some solid material to make the object. However, how can this help with the students’ understanding?
Here we are at a staff meeting during which 3D printing is a point of discussion. The school district is doing a pilot project to purchase one 3D printer per school, and is already creating some activities to use in this school year to see if it is a good tool to be incorporated in the classroom. The school district thinks that with the new BC curriculum, 3D would be a useful tool to materialize the outcome of the student’s creative and critical thinking.
This topic was a point of discussion at the all grades school’s staff meeting and of course, the first one to comment on the topic is Nonlène since nothing is really a positive thing. Ouilène had already heard about this project and was so excited to have a new focus of interest. It was up to Hélène to present a balance point of view and to answer concerns and logistical questions.
Here, how the discussion went after Hélène had introduced the topic during the staff meeting:
Nonlène: “But students have their own laptop and they are not using it. So, why acquire more technological tools that most teachers won’t know what to do with it? Most likely, it will eventually end up sitting in the corner collecting dust.”
Ouilène: “Let’s give the district the benefit of the doubt. They have someone at the district level creating activities for the teachers to use the printers in the classroom. So, the teachers won’t have to spent time to figure out how to use it. It will already be done for them.”
Hélène: “Well, I have learned so far in my OLTD program that technology should not drive the project but the goals should. I have told the district that they should be looking at the learning standards of four subject areas for a specific grade; determining which curricular competencies could be met with the 3D printer and finally, creating activities for teachers to use as part of the student’s demonstration of knowledge and understanding. Knowing this, as a pedagogical leader in the school, I decided to do some more research to see how this technological tool could be used to enhance the learning of our students.”
Ouilène: “I think that having 3D printing in the school is a great idea. It will make the curriculum more tactile which is good as we should offer different experiences to students in order to meet their learning needs i.e. visual, auditory, tactile, etc. I also did some research on how this tool can be used in classes and this infographic provides lots of ideas on how to integrate it.”
Source: Retrieved January 19, 2017 from http://www.teachthought.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/3D-Printing-fi.jpg
“As you can see it allows authentic examination of object and concepts that could not otherwise be available in a school.
The list seems to be endless.
Here are more Ideas on how to use 3D in the classroom: https://www.matterhackers.com/articles/3d-printing-in-education-beyond-stem”
Nonlène: ”Well, another waste of money! The district is just getting 3D printers to follow the trend and for the sake of having it. Who has the knowledge of using this piece of equipment in the school?”
Ouilène: “Here we go, being negative again. As I am interested in this, I already have done some training online and got my certification by Alison- A new world of free certified learning. I am also considering taking courses offered in Coursera called “3D printing revolution” and “3D printing applications” which begins January 30, 2017. There are three more courses that follow so I think that if I do all of these, you will be able to say that I am the expert.”
Hélène: “I really appreciate your enthusiasm in acquiring all of this knowledge and expertise, Ouilène. I think that ideally, there will be also deep-training provided to “two teachers and to a few students so that at least one student printer-technician and one teacher administrator are present in each class” at first. (NMC. 2015) »
Nonlène: “Who really will be using this 3D printer? It will be used at first because of its novelty, the enthusiasm will fade with time and it will eventually just collect dust.”
Ouilène: “After school hours, since I will be the specialist, I will work with teachers in the school to develop some activities to use it. You will see, everyone will want to incorporate it in their lesson plan.”
Hélène: “Thank you, Ouilène! As mentioned before, the activities created by the district will be attached to specific learning outcomes and details learning plans will be provided to the teachers of most grade levels and the 3D printer will be in high demand. However, this does not mean that you cannot work with teachers to find other ways to integrate this technological tool in our school. “
Nonlène: “Well, with the infographic that Ouilène showed us, I can see how you can print how it can be used in Sciences, Social Studies and Arts classrooms but I teach literature, creative writing, media in Français Langue, this is not going to be an appreciable tool for my course.”
Ouilène: “Here we go again! Poor Nonlène!”
Hélène: “Actually, Nonlène, you are quite wrong about this. I was looking around on how 3D printing could be used in schools and I found this article titled: “3D Printing in Education: Beyond STEM” written by Mara Hitner (April, 2016). One of the projects that she has her students track their 3D printing progress and write formal letters to the company explaining their difficulties and success. In another class, students are
“creating Rube Goldberg machines (complex, step-by-step machine to perform a simple task – like the game Mousetrap). (This is) to encourage kids to think and write about sequencing.
“Sequencing can be challenging, especially for these at-risk kids who are not processing information the same way as their peers,” says Wolpert-Gawron “With the display of the machine, they can write and speak about the steps in a much more concrete way.”
Finally, she has a school project for grade 6 to 8 on the way in which students
“will develop prototypes of new products using Tinkercad for design, and use the school’s five Ultimaker 3D printers and Crafty 3D printing pens to iterate on their ideas and bring them to life.
“The 3D printing pens are AWESOME!” gushes Wolpert-Gawron. “Elementary and primary level kids live in a concrete world while trying to learn the abstract, and the 3D printing pen is an easy tactile medium for anyone to work with. You take abstract concepts like letter and number recognition, and show the immediacy of how concrete your imagination can become.”
These are only a few examples of what can be done in an English class with a 3D printer.
I could have a look at it with you, Nonlène is you want to see how you could integrate the 3D printer in your lesson plans to make your projects more innovative and stimulating for the students.”
Nonlène: “OK, but after the school has bought the 3D printer which are not super expensive but $2000 is still a decent piece of change, under what budget will we buy the material such as: the plastic, metal, resin, tissue, etc. but specially the bonding agent used to print objects?
If everyone is using, who will be responsible for it?”
Ouilène: “Since I will be the expert in the school, I will! I will! I can do it all: keep a schedule, purchase the material, store it in my classroom and do the training.”
Hélène: “The school is going to have a small budget just for the 3D printer. The accountant will manage the expenses and if teachers want to purchase their own material, they will submit their receipt for reimbursement. The 3D printer and the material will be kept in the photocopier’s room in the office. Everyone will have to sign it out before taking it in their classroom and to bring it back at the end of the class.”
After this lengthy discussion about bringing a 3D printer in the school, everyone agree that it was a good idea. Ouilène is going to be in charge of the training and will provide support to teachers when needed until more teachers are trained to do so, Hélène with the support of the district, will oversee the pedagogical aspect of the integration of the 3D printer, and the accountant and the office will take care of the required supplies and the storing of the tool.
Alison- A new world of free certified learning. Retrieved January 21, 2017 from https://alison.com/courses/how-to-use-a-3D-printer
Coursera. Turn your ideas into objects. Retrieved January 21, 2017 from https://www.coursera.org/specializations/3d-printing
Hitner, Mara. (April 27, 2016). 3D printing in education: beyond STEM. MatterHacker. Retrieved January 19, 2017 from https://www.matterhackers.com/articles/3d-printing-in-education-beyond-stem
Teachthought We Grow Teachers. (February 19, 2013) 10 ways 3D printing can be used in education (infographic). Retrieved January 21, 2016 from http://www.teachthought.com/the-future-of-learning/technology/10-ways-3d-printing-can-be-used-in-education/