Monday, May 16, 2016

The Quest for Three Dimensions

Ok. Back to a regular posting schedule. I'm excited about this one. Really excited. 

About this time last year, I scheduled my art show with an outside company called Artomé. My building keeps growing right along with my student population. Seriously. We're putting on our second addition as I'm sitting here typing this. I decided to use Artomé to try to make the art show a bit easier. It definitely worked, but more to come with that in a later post. 

Another benefit of using Artomé is that it's also a fundraiser. That aspect became a bit of a conundrum. My yearly budget, though it has declined as I have gotten more students, is sufficient. I'm very lucky. I was thinking that whatever money I would raise through the art show could go toward a larger piece of equipment. What would it be, though? A printing press? No, one press for a class of 30+ doesn't make sense. A glass kiln? No. Not necessary. What could I possibly get? I then had that aha moment. A 3D printer. 

Then came the next problem. 3D printers cost money- a lot of money. I hoped to raise $500-600 at my art show, but the printer I had my eye on cost quite a bit more than that. I researched grants and came across one that I applied for and got. I presented to PTO. They were pumped up about it and granted my request for funds. I then had my art show and raised nearly $900. All of my work and preparation paid off. I bought my printer- the Ultimaker 2+ (at a 10% educator discount!) 
A collection of pre-loaded designs. 

I'm using some spare time this spring learning how to use it. It's pretty easy to get running, actually. Even though I hadn't ever even seen a 3D printer in person, I had it running 30 minutes after it was out of the box. I've been doing a series of test prints recently. Some are things that were pre-loaded on the memory card, some are my designs, and some are files from online sources. I'm wrapping my head around what the printer can do so I can design curriculum around it for next year. 
Holy Cretaceous Period, Batman! 

My plan is to use it with my 4th and 5th grade students next year. There is a free online program called Tinkercad that is pretty intuitive to use. A colleague of mine even uses it with 1st graders. I'm currently brainstorming ideas to use for lessons. Ideally, I'd like to develop something that will display well together. For example, my colleague built upon the idea of an imaginary world. One grade level designed buildings, another did public art, etc. You get the idea. 

Have any of you worked with a 3D printer in your classroom before? What have you done with it? I'm super excited to see it fully in action next year! 

1 comment:

Laura Mellick said...

Hi Zach, With help from the techies at my school, we taught 3D printing to our 6th graders. Students used TinkerCad to design an architectural structure or dwelling. Printing can be every time consuming so we proportionally printed want could be printed within an hour per object. The students loved it!! Good luck. you're welcome to email me with questions -