Reply to Caralee Adams on 3D Printing

Replying to Caralee Adams on The Non-Tech Teacher’s Guide to Using a 3D Printer and how to use a 3D printer in your classroom, even if you’re not a tech teacher.

Be sure to get a machine where students can easily view the printing process, adds Sam Patterson, a Makerspace coordinator at Echo Horizon School, an independent preK–6 school in Culver City, California. “To students, it seems like magic. There is nothing and then there is something. It’s incredibly engaging to watch a 3D object being printed—a new version of watching digital paint dry,” he says.

“It can be kind of hypnotic,” agrees Briggs, as well as a learning experience to understand the design being constructed layer by layer.

I have noticed this too. When students are printing their object it can be incredibly relaxing, even mesmerizing, to watch the layers and to observe how the stilts are added by the printer. Just watching the layers and working out the printing process is fun for students.

Another fun and relaxing activity is cleaning up the stilts and removing the raft using tools such as files and sandpaper. I have been told by some students that they created designs that required stilts for the pleasure of cleaning them up. There is great satisfaction in achieving a clean print.

I think that the following ideas are also really useful for the 3D printing class:

  • not starting from scratch but rather finding a simple object online, downloading the template and making a few small edits to start.
  • displays students’ creations throughout the library so that interested teachers can browse and find ways to connect 3D printing to their lessons.
  • Print a 3D map of the campus using Earth Terrain, a 3D printable map generator.
  • students go through a process to become “3D printing certified.” Once students master a checklist of problems they can solve, they are allowed to work independently.

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