Wednesday, February 15, 2017

3D Prints!

I can safely say that 3D printing has been a hit. I have learned so much throughout the time it took to teach and print all of my 250 4th and 5th grade students. I started out working with 5th grade and changed how I taught by the time I started 4th grade simply because I learned so much about the process by teaching and printing 5th grade work. Simple things that I hadn't even considered wound up creating fairly major printing errors. Other things that I thought would be problematic wound up being fine. 

I let my students choose to create whatever they wanted to print. We used a free online program called Tinkercad. (I highly recommend it.) I wound up having several students facing the dreaded open-ended project block. I think it was a combination of such wide choice and using a completely new media that was a little tough for some kids. The vast majority of my students had a more concrete plan and wound up creating pretty cool designs. This has been a wonderful way to integrate technology into my classroom. It teaches students new skills that are so incredibly applicable to so many jobs that will be available in the future. 

Printing is what takes the most time. I've been printing pretty much non-stop since winter break. I've completely finished printing my 5th grade work and I'm a little more than 3/5 of the way through 4th grade. The printing should be finished next week! I'm able to print 4-5 designs at a time. I start the printer right when I get to school in the morning and I'm usually able to get two sets per day. The up side is that the printer makes all kinds of futuristic sounds and I can pretend I'm in the Jetsons! 
This is most of the work from one class. It took about three days to print all of these. 

Obviously I'll be using the printer more in the future. I'm working with our gifted intervention specialist to have students create more intricate designs to print and send to our sister school in China. Next year, I'm thinking about more specific lesson ideas to use. I really like the idea of using industrial design and the design process as the basis of a lesson. Students could create designs that would be solutions to a problem they encounter in life. Who knows? The options are endless.