As 3D printing technology continues to be added to more and more workflows in many different industries, it’s imperative to start teaching the next generation all we can about the technology. Many big name companies in the 3D printing world, like Dremel, Ultimaker, GE, and MakerBot, have begun to focus on educating students, and teachers, about all of the benefits the technology can offer. But while we can agree that it often takes a village to teach children, sometimes all we need is one determined leader – like Philip Cotton, who was one of the first teachers in the United Kingdom to introduce 3D printing in the classroom.
Cotton’s contributions to 3D printing in education are numerous – in 2015, the award-winning educator, at the time a product design teacher at Ladybridge High School in North Manchester, England, had his teenage students design and 3D print some pretty amazing lamps as part of their final assessment for their technology exam qualification. He also worked with Portuguese 3D printer manufacturer BEEVERYCREATIVE on its 3D printing educational package.
You’ll also recognize Cotton’s name from 3dfilemarket.com, an online file-sharing community he founded where people can download and share 3D printing designs. Recently, the full-time classroom technology teacher, who also runs 3D printing workshops with the UK National STEM Centre for UK teachers interested in bringing the technology to the classroom, launched a new 3D printing resource that he created for teachers, called learnbylayers.
“Learnbylayers.com is a curriculum resource website to teachers who want to start teaching 3D printing and who need a fully tried and tested classroom curriculum,” Cotton told 3DPrint.com. “We offer a whole host of lesson plans, project ideas, assessments and more that have been designed by teachers for teachers. We believe that for 3D printing to expand the content being taught in lessons has to be lead from teachers rather than 3d printing manufacturers. Many manufactures have tried to create curriculums but they have the main aim of promoting their brand of printers. Here at learnbylayers we don’t sell printers. We offer lesson resources to make the teaching of 3D printing straight forward and easy.”
The site started as a project this summer to help teachers get their hands on high quality educational resources, and took off from there, with nearly 2,500 students learning more about 3D printing technology thanks to the helpful curriculum learnbylayers offers – lesson plans for teachers, by teachers.
Cotton explained to us, “There are over 100 resources published for use with middle and high school children. All of them have been tried and tested by current UK leading teachers. The resources are ready to use straight ‘out of the box’ and they can be edited by the teacher as well to suit any varying learning needs of students. We currently have schools in the UK, Australia and Singapore using the curriculum with their students with more schools joining every week.”
Over a dozen schools in multiple countries are using the 3D printing lessons available on learnbylayers, which include resources like design challenges, PowerPoint presentations, lesson worksheets, and 3D printable example files. There are lessons for beginners (ages 11-13) and intermediate students (ages 14-16), and they cover a broad variety of topics, such as:
- The 3D Printing Process
- Creating a Model to 3D Print
- Basic Materials and Slicing
- Different Types of 3D Printers
- Intermediate Slicing Techniques and Materials
“We have also formed a very strong partnership with 3Dslash…to embed their CAD modelling software into the website so teachers and students can use it for free in lessons,” Cotton told 3DPrint.com. “3DSlash is described as the easiest CAD modelling software in the world and this will help teachers introduce the area of CAD modelling to students with ease.”
As part of the website’s official launch, learnbylayers is holding a 3D printer giveaway for schools. According to Cotton, all teachers need to do to enter is download the free lesson plan on the home page, and the school will be chosen in 2018. Even if you don’t end up winning a 3D printer for your school, learnbylayers offers tons of helpful resources for educators, like 3D printing student projects, so make sure to check it out.
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