Monday, March 3, 2014

3D Printing in the Tech Lab

I was very fortunate to receive a MakerBot Replicator 2-3D Printer for my lab through the generosity of and the MakerBot company. This amazing tool began inspiring students and staff alike when it arrived in early December. I envisioned my students becoming creators with this machine yet there was so much I had to learn!

We began printing things found on the SD card that came with the MakerBot and then moved ahead to downloading items from Thingiverse to print. Very cool!! There are some really talented people in the world! I spoke with my students about how the items were printing in layers. They watched in amazement as the printer hummed along.

In January, I began printing my own creation of an elephant which was used in an introductory lesson on SketchUp. A colleague found this tutorial which gave us the idea to start with an elephant which was simple enough to design for 4th and 5th grade students. There were several printed versions of "Ellie" before I got mine just right. I always make sure to point out the printing successes and failures to the students because they will need to consider printing limitations as they begin their own designs.

I introduced the 3D Design Challenge as a project where each student would ultimately print a new creation/invention they developed. I really want them to be creative thinkers who imagine something, design it and actually produce it. After watching Kid President's How to Be an Inventor, my students began to complete the 3D Planning Sheet. I encouraged collaboration among the students to brainstorm problems they wanted to solve. I want this project to be relevant to them so they are choosing their problems: tangled headphones, water bottle falls off my desk, pencil box is a mess, rainbow loom needs to be neater-you get the idea.
Steps 1 and 2 of the planning sheet took an entire class session to complete and we've started steps 3 and 4 this week. One thing I've noticed so far is that the attention to detail is high! Students want to get their plans right!

After one fourth grade class, many students decided they needed to take measurements before starting to actually design in SketchUp! They realize they will need to measure something to get their design right. How awesome is that?! Real world math application-awesomeness! LOVE IT! I can't wait to see how and what my students develop in this process! I look forward to sharing our learning in the weeks ahead!

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