One of the exciting new tools for students that St. John’s Auxilary purchased this summer was four 3D printers from a local company called Airwolf. You may be wondering: what exactly is 3D printing and how will 3D printers be used as a part of student’s learning curriculum?
The first thing you have to do before you can do any 3D printing is begin with an accurate 3D design that you can create using an online program such as Tinkercad, or an app such as Morphi. Once you feel you have a design that will work (design failure is definitely a part of the process!!) you can save it to a mini SD card and the printing process can begin. The way that 3D printing works is that it is a layering process using different grades of plastic. The plastic is heated by the machine and then forced through a nozzle onto a glass plate surface and comes out like a piece of thread. The printer then goes over the design layer by layer (sometimes there is 200+ layers) until it is finished. It reminds me of building a large Lego project where you need to add piece by piece until you have the 3D model you desired.
At St. John’s, 3D printing will be used to enhance student’s learning and support the curriculum. The wonderful thing about 3D printing is that it makes students work through the entire “STEAM” (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) process while doing a project. For example, 2nd graders are just starting their journey using 3D printing. First, they will begin by researching an animal of their choice using a variety of websites to find specific information (Science & Technology). Next, they be taught how to design their animal on paper using a Sharpie (Engineering & Art). The 2nd graders will become engineers as they work to make sure every piece of the design is connected to another piece in some way. Also, the shape has to be clear and big enough to be printed. There is no coloring on this design. Next, Mrs. Grack will use an app to make the drawings 3D and then will print them. Last, the 3D model will be placed in a habitat model and the students will record themselves as the animal using the Chatterpix app (Technology & Language Arts). Wow!! Almost all curriculum areas and many standards will be hit by this one project!!
All in all, 3D printing will used by all students at least twice during their St. John’s career (K-8) and will be an active part of the curriculum that will promote the use of students’ problem solving abilities and higher level thinking skills. Feel free to check out our 3D printers in the lab to see this amazing process happen before your eyes!!
By: Mrs. Grack