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uplandUpland Country Day School in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, teaches students from Pre-Kindergarten through the 9th grade, and clearly has a focus on STEM education. The school recently acquired a MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer and middle schoolers at UCDS have started learning the ropes of 3D design and printing.

As fourth and fifth grade students set about getting to know the technology, they settled in with Tinkercad to learn the ropes of design work. The fourth grade classes used high-tech means to study Colonial life here in the US, while the fifth graders had a more worldly outlook as they tied in their new 3D technology know-how to their geography studies, where they’d been learning about Africa. Fourth and fifth graders alike have accepted the challenge of presenting tedu-tech logoheir creations not only to their classmates, teachers, and families–showing them off proudly this past week at UCDS’ Grandparents and Special Friends Day–but also entering them into the Edu-Tech Middle School 3D Challenge 2015.

With the prize for the competition set as a MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer for the school, the Edu-Tech initiative can prove to be a pretty big deal for helping more students get hands-on experience with this technology, which is only growing in prominence as this generation of school-aged students will surely only see it rise more exponentially to prominence.sketching ideas

“Their primary objective of the competition is for their students to research, design and produce a device or object that supports a curricular topic that they are currently studying,” teacher Kate McKenna describes on her UCDS 3D Printing blog. “Their hope is that designing and creating this object(s) on the 3D printer will lead to a deeper and more meaningful understanding of the topic.”

The first project from the fifth graders is especially impressive, as they set about applying their growing 3D design and printing skills to a real-world problem that could help those across the globe.tinkercad design

The students have created “a replica of a water collection device that will harvest rainwater,” wrote McKenna. “This device is designed to capture and store rainwater. This rainwater capturing system is designed to sit over an African hut/house and collect and filter rainwater. The rainwater is captured in the circular structure, which will actually be made of a fine mesh material to strain out large impurities. The strained water then goes into a small storage tank, where the homeowners can then pump it out for watering their small home gardens, or collecting it into clear plastic bottles for further filtering (using solar ultraviolet light to kill waterborne pathogens).”

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3D printing the water collector (Photo: Kate McKenna)

After the students sketched their design concepts and turned to a favorite middle school building technique–popsicle sticks–to make models, they rendered their rain catcher in Tinkercad before printing it on the school’s MakerBot Replicator 2.

modelsIn order to demonstrate the value of their project, the fifth graders who created the filter put together a video report documenting their process. Listening to the students describe their creative process shows the depth of their understanding of and appreciation for 3D printing technology–as well as their depth of caring for those in rain-sparse desert areas, who truly can benefit from low-cost 3D printed water filtration devices. Be sure to look at their presentation video below.

Have you heard of similar student projects that bring together multiple subject areas in a beneficial use of 3D printing technology? Let us know in the 5th Graders Create 3D Printed Water Filter forum thread over at 3DPB.com.

 

rendering students printing filter

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