formlabs-logoBringing 3D printing to the classroom has proven time and again to be a dynamic, highly educational addition to the curriculum. It encourages students to solve problems in creative ways and helps prepare them for the real world beyond school, where 3D printing is making its mark in many industries where they may eventually work. Educators of all levels, from elementary to university, and across disciplines, are encouraging their students to utilize 3D printing in order to build experience and critical thinking skills that will be necessary in the future workforce. University architecture students in Colorado are 3D modeling and printing design challenges from example clients, high school freshmen in an Illinois engineering class are developing and 3D printing custom USB cases…the list of innovative projects that students and educators are taking on is dizzying. This fall, Formlabs invited educators to enter and compete in their Innovate & Educate Challenge, sharing how they were integrating 3D printing in their classrooms.

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“Innovate & Educate Challenge” entries came from dark blue states

In the contest, which began in conjunction with the White House National Manufacturing Day, teachers across the country were asked to develop and share their unique lesson plans that encouraged hands-on learning and creative thinking through the use of 3D printing. Lesson plans had to be one hour long and aim to teach students a new skill from a core STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, mathematics) subject using 3D printing. Now, thanks to all of the submissions they received, Formlabs can share free educational resources with a wide learning community that wants to inspire students and expose them to immersive STEAM learning experiences. Formlabs was thrilled to receive so many thoughtful entries from all over the US!

According to the contest page, the 8 judges selected the lesson plan and file that offered the best educational experience using the following judging criteria:

  • The objective of the lesson plan is clearly stated and provides a manner of which to achieve it.
  • The .STL file is engaging and relevant to the lesson plan.
  • The lesson allows the student to make connections between 3D printing and real world applications.

The judges reviewed all submissions, and announced the winner via email last week. While there were many fascinating lesson plans to choose from, there could only be one winner, and that is non-profit public benefit corporation Science Visualization Initiative (SVI). The lesson plan they submitted is part of their 3D digital arts program for 5th through 8th graders, Cool 3D, and is designed to be used with their traveling STEAM Bus, a mobile digital arts platform owned and managed by the Allegany Arts Council and based out of Cumberland, Maryland. SVI’s winning lesson plan, “The Dodecahedron,” teaches students about orthographic views, perspective, polyhedra, and of course, dodecahedrons (a solid figure with 12 faces). The goal of the lesson is give the students a deeper understanding of how complex 3D designs can be the key to innovation, and lead to exciting careers in a variety of industries when they grow up. It guides the students into links between our 3D world, and 2D methods of visualization, through the use of artistic exploration.

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“The Dodecahedron” lesson

While reading about SVI and their STEAM Bus, I was interested to learn that it travels to all corners of Allegany County, which is located in rural Appalachia and is the second poorest county in the state of Maryland. The STEAM Bus also makes stops to kids who are home-schooled and to under-served kids who are involved in after school programs with the YMCA and the Salvation Army. The Cool 3D program is just one of several presented on the STEAM Bus. This is a really great example of educators making sure that 3D printing and STEAM curricula is available to all kids, including the ones who may not have readily available access to them. SVI will receive a Form 2 desktop 3D printer from Formlabs; click here if you’d like to download a free PDF of the lesson plan and its related .STL and .FORM files, and don’t forget to watch for the Formlabs blog post about the lesson.

The runner up of the Formlabs Innovate & Educate Challenge is Somerville High School, with their “Principles of 3D Modeling” lesson plan. It offers an in-depth overview of 3D modeling functions, three-dimensional space, and inventor basics. It engages students by having them design and 3D print a custom Lego. The school was awarded a coupon for $400 off a Form 2 desktop 3D printer or resin, and will also be featured on the Formlabs blog.

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“Principles of 3D Modeling” lesson plan

If you missed the challenge, but still want to help Formlabs continue to build an educational community that helps students of all ages learn and prepare for the future through 3D printing in the classroom, it’s not too late! You can still develop and submit lesson plans on 3D printing, along with an applicable .STL file, and join Formlabs and their growing community of educators. Just visit their submissions page to learn more, and submit your 3D printing lesson plans. Discuss in the Formlabs forum at 3DPB.com.

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