One of the most inspirational aspects of covering the 3D printing space is the fact that we constantly have the opportunity to promote the use of the technology in schools around the world. There is nothing more pleasing to me than reporting on a successful case study in which 3D printing proved to be of great benefit to students at various schools and other educational institutions. Without a doubt, 3D printing is a technology of the future, yet very few teachers, school administrators, or parents are pushing for the introduction of this technology into the classroom environment. There is a reason for this, and that can be summed up with one word: unfamiliarity.
It won’t be until more people become aware of the benefits that 3D printing can provide that the technology will infiltrate these places of education. One school in Washington, DC has recently proved that 3D printing within the classroom environment can have many benefits to children.
That school is Georgetown Day School (GDS), where 3D printing has recently become quite a large part of their studies, thanks in part to two MakerBot Replicator 5th Generation 3D printers, and some faculty who are determined to help their students succeed.
“We at GDS are admittedly newbies when it comes to 3D printing, though we have a core group of teachers and students who are very excited about 3D printing, and use the printers all the time,” Tim Lyons, Director of Technology & 21st Century Learning at GDS, tells 3DPrint.com. “At our high school campus, our students have been more individualized & pragmatic with their use of the printers, and have made custom GDS-themed smartphone cases, organizer/mounts for the various remotes & dongles in each of our classrooms, etc. Academically, several of our science teachers have printed models of atoms, molecules, organs and other biological & chemical structures. We also did a series of prints of clips that would accept a small glass bead and fit over the body of an iPhone, turning it in effect into a 300x microscope.”
One of the latest projects was one taken on by a 5th grade glass at the school, aimed at teaching students urban planning and design, while at the same time providing an extraordinary lesson on both CAD and 3D printing. The 10- and 11-year-old students really took to the project, which asked them to use their knowledge of city development to build a future city.
Getting into collaborative teams, they laid out a grid and then after studying the services and amenities that a community needs to be successful, each student chose a building to design using TinkerCad. They were asked to create a 3-dimensional plan for each building, and then over the 3-week project a MakerBot Replicator was used to print out various buildings to be placed on their city grids. These building included everything from schools to churches, houses, libraries, firehouses, hospitals, and more. Once all of the buildings were completely printed, the students arranged and then re-arranged them to create the best possible city layout that they could.
In the end, not only were these students provided with a fun, interactive lesson on city planning, but they also learned how to combine CAD design with 3D printing — surely tools which will all come in handy throughout their educational and professional lives.
What do you think about this incredible use of 3D printing at the Georgetown Day School? Do you think more teachers and school administrators should be using this as a plan for their own classrooms? Discuss in 3D printing in schools forum thread on 3DPB.com.