Bringing ideas and designs to life can be a key motivator for children in school. For that reason, 3D printers are becoming a valued tool in education even before students enter college. Here is a list of ways in which 3D printing is applied in the classroom from elementary through high school:
- The Engineering and Metal Fabrication program at Nestucca Junior/Senior High School in Cloverdale, Oregon, uses 3D printing to bring their designs to life. For example, they modified and printed a prototype of a complicated steel part that is part of a machine.
- Campbell-Tintah Public Schools in Campbell, Minnesota, use 3D printing for their Technology program: teachers take their students to local engineering plants to show them how 3D printing is used in industry and then have them recreate and reproduce some of the objects and projects they saw.
- J. H. Rose High School in Greenville, North Carolina, uses 3D printing technology to produce iPod speakers, toy drag racers (unit on aerodynamics), and robot parts.
- Even pre-kindergarten uses 3D printing technology by now: at the William Penn Carter School in Philadelphia, students printed their own designs of bird nests for a unit on birds.
- Upperclass students in the same school printed replicas of life masks taken of Abraham Lincoln in their Advanced Placement American History class.
- Studies started investigating the use of 3D tactile instructional materials for students with visual impairments, such as 3D versions of historical maps and historical relics such as rocket launchers and a Buddhist grotto (see page 118).
The increasing popularity of 3D printing also becomes apparent looking at the number of online sources designed to help teachers and kids to apply 3D printing tools:
- “Design, Make, Teach:” a website designed to help teachers integrate 3D printing in the classroom.
- Kathy Schrock is a big advocate for the introduction of 3D printing in school classrooms. Her website includes numerous resources, ideas, and lesson plans for applying 3D printing in school.
- Makerbot offers a variety of resources and tips to integrate 3D printing in the classroom.