Long Island High School Students Reap Rewards as Teacher Builds $50,000 3D Printing Lab from Donations

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Michael Davies in his 3D Printing Lab.

Greenport High School students are very lucky to have a technology teacher like Michael Davies. A true people person, he has an undeniable knack for networking and persuading more affluent contacts to make donations to his school. He’s put those skills to work for his class, and now Davies has managed to build a truly amazing 3D printing lab at the Long Island public school.

He’s created something superior to what many colleges even have, and all of this will give his students a major head start as they work their way through high school and enter college with most likely more knowledge than most when it comes to digital design and 3D printing. This is a tremendous boost for offering greater career options as well, as large companies of all types are looking for graduates skilled in design and 3D printing.

The lab at Greenport High is only one of a few in the area, boasting multiple 3D printers.

“It’s really impressive, especially when you consider the size of our school,” said Superintendent David Gamberg.

kidsWith eight MakerBot Replicators, all donated to the district at Davies’ urging, along with a list of equipment and supplies, they consider the value of everything to be edging up toward $50,000–and Davies continues his efforts, making us wonder if perhaps one day this will be a lab where each child luxuriously sits at their own 3D printer.

As the lab becomes more and more populated with technology, enthusiasm just continues to grow in both this teacher and all his very dedicated students. He likes to compare the 3D printers to high-tech glue guns, and in offering such a basic comparison, most likely makes the hardware seem fun rather than intimidating.

Kids at Greenport are drawn to the 3D printers as well as new projects, and can often be found staying voluntarily after class too, magnetized by all they are able to design and make. Davies’ technology class, which began this year, has 38 students, split into two sections. So far, as they learn about digital design and then go on to 3D print, they have made busts of themselves, smartphone cases, windshield ice scrapers, camera lens hoods, parts for the equipment they use and even prosthetic hands. They also learn to take care of the equipment and perform necessary maintenance.

“We’re all learning together. It’s fun and exciting,” says Davies. “On parent/teacher night this place is mobbed–not with kids–but parents.”

girlAlthough 3D printing for 38 kids and one teacher can get expensive in terms of filament and all that goes along with fabrication, Davies has managed to cover all of that with donations–and much of his efforts were concentrated while he was injured earlier in the year. He spent his time being very productive on the phone, doing constant networking, and he jokes that people get so tired of hearing from him that they give him stuff just to make him go away. So far the district has only spent a total of $4500 on the lab.

 “No high school’s going to have a lab like this,” Davies says. “It’s like something you’d see at a high-end college. They can walk into an industrial design class or an engineering class and have a jump on what they need to know.”

The advent of the 3D printer undoubtedly has been a huge boost to entice students of all levels around the country, from college to elementary schools, into getting excited about building complex technological projects, as well as other very interesting items like other students too making prosthetics for other young people in need–and what about the 3D printed wheelchair for Lilly the two-legged goat? As the STEM agenda is in full force across the US, and many other countries, it’s obvious that the plan to get children more interested in science, technology, engineering, and math is beginning to work as kids see the infinite world of design and innovation that is open to them due to 3D printing and other associated technologies like robotics and virtual reality. Do you have 3D printing labs like this anywhere in your area? Discuss in the Greenport 3D Printing Lab forum over at 3DPB.com.

[Images: Denise Civiletti / Source: Southold Local]

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