What can a 3d printer do in a classroom?

The benefits of bringing a 3D printer into your classroom can be real and immediate.  And I will get to them.  But first a word: patience.  You have to give yourself and your students the freedom to be patient with the process and the machine.

created in tinkercad1. Common core and 3d printing – in the California Common Core Standards for Geometry item #4 is “Model with mathematics”.  So much of my conversation around 3d modeling using everyday geometric terminology.  On the first day of our work with Tinkercad (cloud based 3d modeling)  I show students how to free rotate an object or to rotate it in increments of 45 degrees. 

There is also a significant need for measurement, scaling and conversion of measurement.  Successful application of these mathematical skills becomes evident in the final, 3d printed object.

2. The future in the classroom – as a tech teacher it is more common to incorporate content or tools that are established in vocational ed or industry.  Take the opportunity and an increasing variety of low(er) cost 3d printers and get a 3d printer in the room.  You will give your students access to a tool and manufacturing impact is far from full realized.

3. Attract a wide variety of students –  the tangible nature of a 3d printed product is compelling to a broad cross section of students.  I’ve been using 3d printers in my teaching for a year and a half and students remain amazed that their designs can be realized as a physical object.  This enthusiasm leads to exploration and problem solving that is hard to contain and easy to engage.

As for that comment about patience, don’t wait any longer to setup 3d printing for your students.

What role does 3d printing play in your instruction?


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