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A Challenge in 3D

April 29, 2014

My students worked hard to earn their 3D printer. From soliciting family members to hosting a car wash at our local running store, where they raised nearly half our funds, including washing their superintendent’s car, they wanted to raise the roughly $2,000 needed for a Makerbot. In watching how they hustled between cars, how they asked for updates on the printer, and the ideas they came up with for using the printer, their genuine excitement and motivation only increased mine.

Now that our printer is in the mail, students are more excited than ever to print, from customized phone cases to robot figurines. The only problem? None of us has ever printed anything more than paper. However, like I tell all of my students, when you don’t know something, find the answer. They’ve taken to the internet to watch tutorials, to work together, and to ask questions to find ways to make their ideas become reality.

As we embark on this new adventure, we’re finding resources like Make2Learn, which has great resources on using FabLab, to watching other classes at Burley and throughout Albemarle County, the students’ knowledge of 3D printing is rising exponentially each day. Not only are they excited to see their creations, but they don’t have the patience to wait for answers, so they’re going after solutions aggressively. Sure, they become frustrated when they can’t find the answer to something, but they also know the answer is out there if they keep looking.

Years ago, I was asked to create a Prezi. No problem, except for the issue that I had no idea how to make a Prezi. Instead of spending an hour watching tutorials, I assigned my sixth graders the task of creating a Prezi about something in the novel we were currently reading. None of them knew how to make a Prezi, which made class so interesting that day. Some kids moved to work with each other and ask questions as they went about creating their Prezi. Other kids worked by themselves, clicking different things until it started to make sense. Others watched the tutorial videos on Prezi before starting. By the end of class, most kids had finished their Prezi, but they had all taken different routes to get there. And by me not knowing anything about Prezi, they couldn’t ask me how to do anything, nor could I “fix” something on their screen if I’d wanted to. It was a truly organic process that showed me how powerful it is to put learning directly into students’ hands and get out of their way. With our new 3D printer only days away from arriving, I hope the students are ready to pull me along with them on this new journey.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. April 29, 2014 4:43 am

    Good luck with the printer. I recomment checking out http://www.thingiverse.com for printing ideas.

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