I don’t know if you remember what you were doing in seventh grade, but I’m pretty sure it was something along the lines of doodling in my notebook and staring off into space. These days, things seem a little more rigorous. The seventh graders at Perry Middle School were using their time more productively and have built their own 3D printer.

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Four students, Charlie Kluznik, Jacob Holroyd, and the twin brothers David and Eric Paquin put the final touches on their machine on October 1st and have been giving it a run for its money ever since. These ambitious kids took on this project as part of their STEM class and while right now they are printing things from designs provided by the manufacturer’s software, they have already started imagining what they can design on their own.

Blanche Davidson, the STEM teacher at Perry decided that rather than buy a ready made machine for the students to use, she would pursue deep learning by having them build it on their own. She explained her hands-on philosophy towards learning:

“One of the things we’re trying to do is get students to learn something really deeply. If we just gave them the printer, they wouldn’t really understand what is going on with it. To allow them to build it, they have a deep understanding of how it works, they can troubleshoot it themselves and they become the experts. That’s what we want.”

make3The students themselves were not new to the idea of 3D printing. Charlie Kluznik, who led the team of technology savvy students talked about his understanding of 3D printing and his hopes for the machine:

“We have all played the trumpet and I want to print a trumpet mouth piece someday. I’ve seen people print all sorts of things – mouth pieces and even entire instruments – but you have to put them together.”

The students spent around 20 hours putting the machine together. Spreading that over 45 minute class periods meant that it took them almost a month to assemble it. Interspersed with the building, they also had the opportunity to visit Beachwood’s MakerGear facility and talk with the owner and employees. While the machine is designed to be built in 3 hours by one person, the team is quick to note that they had to stop and start a lot and, they are convinced they could build the next one in a lot less time.

Davidson isn’t satisfied having introduced 3D printing technology into one classroom and is now working on a way to convince Perry High School’s STEM to take on a similar project. Have any of your children been introduced to 3D printing?  Let’s hear your thoughts on this story in the 3D Printing and Education forum thread on 3DPB.com.

[Source:News-Herald]
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