Elementary students experience the latest technology using 3D printers thanks to a Hansen Foundation Grant and support from the local Home & School association. The exposure to 3D technology stimulates students to use their imagination and gain first-hand experience creating 3D objects. It was a challenge for the students to create 3D objects when they are so used to only drawing and printing on paper. They had to learn how to make holes in order to add height and depth to an object. The students had to “think outside the box”. Students were challenged and collaborated to come up with designs. These designs involved mathematical, communication and technical skills. After learning the basics, they became designers, manufacturers and architects!
Upper grade level students researched online items and learned how to “tweak” them. They learned how to analyze and adapt size, mass and printing time of 3D objects. The student council (STUCO) chose items to sell to the student body for their annual community project. STUCO students became entrepreneurs by analyzing what items would sell, how much to sell it for, and how to sell them. The profits of the sales were donated to the Humane Society. This experience was great exposure for our students to understand the need of community and involvement within their communities to help others in need. In addition, it demonstrated helping others can be fun and fulfilling.
Then came the latest trend, fidget spinners! I think every single upper grade student designed their own fidget spinner. It was a good lesson on fads. We read online news articles about schools wanting to ban fidget spinners. We discussed in our own school if fidget spinners should be banned.
Teachers are constantly thinking of new ways to create 3D objects to be used in their curriculum. Next year, the Art teacher will have 3rd grade students make looms for their weaving art projects. For math class the students are creating manipulatives to help them learn mathematical and other concepts. Another grade level wants to design holiday ornaments. We are coming up with all kinds of ideas for many years to come.