Can you imagine how different your life might have been if you had grown up with a 3D printer in your classroom? Would it have improved your understanding of different subjects like math, science, and design?
3D printers give users the ability to turn an imagination into reality. Technology Outlook: STEM+ Education 2013-2018 stated that 3D printing is important to teaching and learning as a way to facilitate “more authentic exploration of objects that may not be readily available to teachers and students.” For example, things like fragile fossils and artifacts can be prototyped and printed, giving students a more hands-on learning experience and also better insight into problem solving.
The next generation of students has the amazing opportunity to take advantage of this high-tech curriculum in the classroom — and an educator, it’s exciting to start thinking about this new chapter in education. Now is the perfect time to start familiarizing yourself with the technology behind 3D printing and to think about how you can best implement it into your curriculum. Here are some practical tips for making the most of the maker movement in your classroom.
Let Your Kids Learn With You
Part of the fun in 3D printing is learning how the printers themselves work. You can take a number of different tutorials in order to get a sense of the fundamentals of 3D printing before working with your kids in the classroom, but they will love being able to figure out how to tighten the screws, get all the settings right, pull the filament through the machine, and so forth under your guidance. This will not only get them excited about the technical aspects of the process, but it also teaches them valuable skills about working together and problem-solving.
Stay on Top of Your Resources
There are plenty of projects that offer teachers resources for bringing 3D printing into the classroom. Autodesk Project Ignite is helping to bring design-based learning to classrooms with their virtual lab environment guides. They help teach hands-on projects and making “Making” easy. They also offer plenty of tutorials and applications to help you better teach your kids about 3D printing. MakerBot Academy is another resource that not only provides awesome curriculum aiding tools, but also gives teachers a chance to crowdfund 3D printing tools from various sources. Tinkerine U is a Canadian 3D printer manufacturer that prides itself on its educational initiatives. They offer teacher training manuals, online lesson plans and courses, and more.
Begin as an After-School Program
If you’re unsure of how to introduce 3D printing into your curriculum, you can start it as an after-school program. That way, kids get a chance to show interest in the topic and explore it at their own pace without any pressure. It makes the activity of learning fun instead of daunting. Feel free to be honest with your kids throughout the learning process — it’s okay if you don’t have all the answers! They’ll be excited about learning along with you, and you stand to gain a lot of knowledge from them as well.
Students across the country are excited to take on the challenge of learning about 3D printing, and you’re in a position to guide them in new directions that didn’t exist in previous generations of schooling. It’s a great time to be involved in education and to research the reach and scope of 3D printing, as well as the value it can offer kids in the classroom.