3D printers in the classroom? Yes please!

Richard Bacon

Richard Bacon has many years of experience in education having worked as a senior lecturer in university delivering computer science and digital graphic design applications, and also as a specialist teacher of IT related subjects in schools and colleges. He is now working to help teachers embrace and deploy the exciting technology of 3D printing across the curriculum, and is promoting 3D modelling and design within schools to enthuse and engage our young learners by using the amazing possibilities of rapid visualisation and prototyping that these printers make possible.

Follow @ParalogicNet

Website: www.paralogic.co.uk Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Capturing the attention of a classroom full of over-zealous students and making them want to learn more about your ‘pet subject’ is often something of a challenge and a source of frustration to all concerned, so any prop or piece of technology that helps is usually welcomed with open arms by the hard pressed class tutor. More often than not, however, such magical enablers have been hard to come by. This (in my experience, anyway) often leads to countless wasted hours of futile planning and crafting followed inevitably by the sullen after school destruction of exercise sheets, Powerpoint slide-shows and lesson notes all destined for that every growing bin that is usually filed as ‘My Old Lesson Plans’.

"3D printers are received by pretty much every student, young and old, with amazement, interest and a desire to learn more!"

Well fellow educators, we may have a new friend in our arsenal. The arrival of a new generation of small, desktop sized and reasonably-priced additive manufacturing machines (or, as we like to call them these days 3D Printers) could re-kindle the fire of enthusiasm in our young learners’ bellies for all things STEM and beyond!

I have been lucky enough to deliver many lessons over the past few years using a variety of 3D printers. I can honestly say that on every occasion, the devices were received by pretty much every student, young and old (Primary through to University), with amazement, interest and a desire to learn more! Many of the teachers I speak to are equally impressed when they see a printer working for the first time but soon (after the initial awesomeness has faded), they ask ‘but how is it going to be of use to my classes?’.

Well, I have to say that with a little lateral thinking, these machines can add enthusiasm and purpose to many a subject area. For example, I’ve seen them usefully employed to print models of artefacts for the finale of history projects, with students claiming their very own ‘stone of henge’ for the construction of a diorama, designing interesting geometric shapes in mathematics ready to print as playground-cool jewellery, and of course, the inevitable I-made-a-robot keyrings!

Using the 3D software to create such models can be an issue, of course, as most computer-aided design packages, despite often being free for schools to use, are quite tricky to master. However, if they are included as part of the 3D modelling element into the Computing curriculum, it is entirely possible to give students enough of an experience in a few lessons to allow them to create interesting and fun projects to print. And to help this along there, are some great resources available to enable teachers to start 3D printing right ‘out of the box’. There is also access to free collections of thousands of models via the web, all ready to print, many of which can be customised online without the need for any 3D software at the user end at all.

Additionally there are other free resources that allow the capture of real life objects big and small on mobile phones or digital cameras which can be sent to the cloud for transforming into printable 3D models.

So, 3D printers in the classroom? I most definitely say “Yes please!”.

Do you use 3D printers in your school? Share your experiences below.

Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support us.
When you register, you'll join a grassroots community where you can:
• Enjoy unlimited access to articles
• Get recommendations tailored to your interests
• Attend virtual events with our leading contributors
Register Now
Login

Latest stories

  • How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country
    How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country

    Teaching English in a foreign country is likely to be one of the most demanding experiences you'll ever have. It entails relocating to a new country, relocating to a new home, and beginning a new career, all of which are stressful in and of themselves, but now you're doing it all at once. And you'll have to converse in a strange language you may not understand.

  • Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?
    Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?

    Over the weekend, my family of five went to an Orlando theme park, and I decided we should really enjoy ourselves by purchasing an Unlimited Quick Queue pass. It was so worth the money! We rode every ride in the park at least twice, but one ride required us to ride down a rapidly flowing river, which quenched us with water. It was incredible that my two-year-old was laughing as well. We rode the Infinity Falls ride four times in one day—BEST DAY EVER for FAMILY FUN in the Sun! The entire experience was epic, full of energizing emotions and, most importantly, lots of smiles. What made this ride so cool was that the whole family could experience it together, the motions were on point, and the water was the icing on the cake. It had been a while since I had that type of fun, and I will never forget it.

  • Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2
    Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2

    The Action Pack is back for the start of the brand new school year, just in time for Recycle Week 2021 on 20 - 26 September, to empower pupils to make the world a better and more sustainable place. The free recycling-themed resources are designed for KS1 and KS2 and cover the topics of Art, English, PSHE, Science and Maths and have been created to easily fit into day-to-day lesson planning.

  • Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu
    Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu

    Following the exceptional performance from British breakthrough star Emma Raducanu, who captured her first Grand Slam at the US Open recently, Emmamania is already inspiring pupils aged 4 - 11 to get more involved in tennis - and LTA Youth, the flagship
    programme from The LTA, the governing body of tennis in Britain, has teachers across the country covered.

  • 5 ways to boost your school's eSafety
    5 ways to boost your school's eSafety

    eSafety is a term that constantly comes up in school communities, and with good reason. Students across the world are engaging with technology in ways that have never been seen before. This article addresses 5 beginning tips to help you boost your school’s eSafety. 

  • Tackling inequality in EdTech
    Tackling inequality in EdTech

    We have all been devastated by this pandemic that has swept the world in a matter of weeks. Schools have rapidly had to change the way they operate and be available for key workers' children. The inequalities that have long existed in communities and schools are now being amplified by the virus.

  • EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab
    EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab

    The world is catching up with a truth that we’ve championed at Learning Ladders for the last 5 years - that children’s learning outcomes are greatly improved by teachers, parents and learners working in partnership. 

  • Reducing primary to secondary transition stress
    Reducing primary to secondary transition stress

    As school leaders grapple with the near impossible mission to start bringing more students into schools from 1st June, there are hundreds of thousands of Year 6 pupils thinking anxiously about their move to secondary school.

  • Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?
    Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?

    The K-12 online tutoring market is booming around the world, with recent research estimating it to grow by 12% per year over the next five years, a USD $60bn increase. By breaking down geographic barriers and moving beyond the limits of local teaching expertise, online tutoring platforms are an especially valuable tool for those looking to supplement their studies in the developing world, and students globally are increasingly signing up to online tuition early on in their secondary education schooling. 

  • Employable young people or human robots?
    Employable young people or human robots?

    STEM skills have been a major focus in education for over a decade and more young people are taking science, technology, engineering, and maths subjects at university than ever before, according to statistics published by UCAS. The downside of this is that the UK is now facing a soft skills crisis and the modern world will also require children to develop strong social skills as the workplaces are transformed by technology. 

In order to make our website better for you, we use cookies!

Some firefox users may experience missing content, to fix this, click the shield in the top left and "disable tracking protection"