From snowy Steamboat Springs all the way to the sunny Florida Keys, I’ve spoken recently with so many people whose kids are using 3D printers in their schools. It’s often surprising to hear about in the more remote locations, but 3D printing is hot, and a wide range of grants are available in education, as well as discounts and promotions from companies just like MakerBot.
We’ve also highlighted numerous stories regarding MakerBot and their dedication to making 3D printing accessible to students from their Innovation Centers around the world to a variety of incentives for learning institutions.
Now, accessibility for students is truly hitting the bigtime as the Montclair, New Jersey school district is working to outfit all of its schools with 3D printers, in the form of 27 MakerBot Replicators. Made possible due to the popular Buy Two, Get One promotion which we’ve been following--through which 18 new machines were purchased and 9 refurbished 3D printers were donated–Montclair district schools will be receiving the new machines at 7 elementary schools, 3 middle schools, and 1 high school. To be distributed in January, each school will have a total of 3 printers.
Although existing 3D printing programs were in place in the schools, this will really beef up learning and offer opportunities to make more complex school projects. Previously, after-school workshops were only available in one middle school for 7th and 8th grade students as well as classes for 10th, 11th, and 12th grade STEM students during the school year.
What the school district envisions happening now is a comprehensive 3D printing learning experience that allows students to begin building their skillset in elementary school and expand on that all the way into high school. The youngest will begin with simple projects, which will build year by year, with middle schoolers beginning to take on CAD projects where they can make their own designs and 3D print prototypes for projects like book holders and other creative ideas. Advancing to high school, students will make more complex 3D printed models like drones–or even e-NABLE prosthetics.
The goal is that by the time these students reach college, they have fully developed skills and are able to go on to work on 3D printed projects that relate to the career paths they may have chosen or show aptitude in. Coming into the higher education atmosphere with CAD design and 3D printing skills already in their repertoire gives students an enormous leg up, and possible immediate connections in business networking.
The release also noted that each school will be training two teachers in CAD and 3D printing. They will then pass on what they learn to other teachers at their respective schools. Lynn English and Dan Taylor will be overseeing the program. English is the Director of the Weston Science Scholars Program, which is a partnership between Montclair High School and Montclair State University. She’s also a chemistry and geoscience teacher at Montclair High School. Taylor is the STEM Director for the Mt. Hebron School as well as the Science and STEM magnet for the district.
“Under the aegis of the Department of Defense, the Picatinny Arsenal is helping teachers in the Montclair School District get up to speed on 3D printing,” states a recent press release for the school district. “Their own program promotes STEM learning from Eastern Pennsylvania to Brooklyn as a means of building up a talent base for new engineers in the coming years.”
Both English and Taylor will work with educators at Montclair State University as well for developing standards and training. Summer camps for the 3D printing programs will also be offered within the public schools in July 2016. Discuss this story in the Monclair MakerBot forum thread on 3DPB.com.