The Windsor Boys’ School – Setting an Example for 3D Printing in Education

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philhall4Dating back to the year 1908, the Windsor Boys’ School has been a mainstay in Berkshire in the UK. It’s an academy which boys ages 13-19 attend, and it has been in its current location on Maidenhead Road in Windsor since 1939. Windsor specializes in the arts, with a big emphasis on both academics and extracurricular activities.

The school also has four 3D printers on hand, available for student use. Phil Hall, a product design teacher at the academy, recently had his 16- and 17-year-old students utilize a MakerBot 2 and MakerBot 2X 3D printer to create some very innovative products.

Hall teaches all age groups within the school, with the youngest students being taught electronics, resistant material, and product design. He has been teaching at the school for 14 years and tells us that his last 2 have been the most exciting. It has been 3D printing that has played a large role in creating some of that excitement.

“I have become hugely passionate about 3d printing and cannot understand why more schools in the UK are not utilizing this amazing technology,” Hall explains to 3DPrint.com. “We are supposed to be teaching pupils about how design/engineering is done in the real world. 3d printing is in industry and needs to be in every school. The government ought to be promoting this subject and amazing technology; not trying to kill it off. Investment is needed in 3d printing and appropriate training for teachers to deliver this exciting tool to young creative minds or face the fact that we (the UK) will be playing catch up with the rest of the world.”

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The Herb Garden Project

Hall believes that the key to helping children succeed with 3D printing is first training them to use CAD software. He isn’t a very big proponent of simply having students download designs from sites like Thingiverse, but would rather empower them to create their own designs through 3D modeling techniques.

It was only two years ago that the Windsor Boys’ School first began its endeavor into the realm of 3D printing. While Hall tells us that there was a huge learning curve at first, students and admistrators are now beginning to fully realize the potential that the technology provides. In doing so, Hall recently had his students take part in some very interesting 3D printing related assignments.philhall5

“The design briefs were set by the examination board and vary from vague briefs such as ‘innovative products’ to more focused briefs such as ‘educational toys for the under 5’s’, ‘Sports training aids’ and ‘MP3 docking stations,’” Hall tells 3DPrint.com. “Featured on the presentation board with many photos there are working MP3 speaker docks for which the pupils not only had to solve the design issues but also the electronic issues, children’s educational toys/games, a safety tea light candle holder to be used in a child’s room (rocket) and an example of an iPhone based sports training aid.”

Most of the students’ models were designed to be printed and assembled in multiple sections, with some objects taking over 14 hours to print. Students were asked to combine 3D printing with other technologies, such as laser cutting, to come up with many different products. As you can see in the photos provided, all of these creations came out unbelievably well.

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“The pupils, staff and parents love the 3d printers,” Hall tells us. “The idea that pupils can design something in class and have the object the following day blows their minds. It also helps massively in their understanding of the design process and allows project time to be reduced. The printers allow every pupil to realise that they are creators.”

What Phil Hall and the Windsor Boys’ School is doing should really be the example that other schools, not only in the United Kingdom, but through the world, use in helping prepare students for their future in design, engineering, architecture, and manufacturing. Without a doubt, 3D printing is a technology not just for the future but of the future. Students should be learning about what it can do for them and others before they enter the workforce.

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What do you think about the way in which this prestigious school has gone about introducing 3D printing to their students? Should more schools be following in Windsor Boys’ School’s footsteps? Discuss in the 3D Printing in School forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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