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A Class in 3D

April 30, 2014

“Are you sure you remembered to order it?” a student asked me as we started class today. He was referencing our 3D printer and how long it was taking to come.

“Yes, I’m sure I ordered it.”

“When’s the last time you checked the mailroom?”

“Yesterday afternoon.”

Students unpack their 3D printer

Students unpack their 3D printer

I understand their frustration. It was seeming to take way too long for our 3D printer to come. In kid days, two weeks is more like two years, and after all the research and reading we’ve been doing about 3D printing, these kids were more than excited to delve into it.

Halfway through first block, our amazing custodian, C.J., came into our class carrying two heavy boxes, one with the “Makerbot” logo on the side. The kids immediately knew what it was and gathered around the box while one student grabbed scissors to open it. As we slowly took the contents out of the box, the kids tried to guess what pieces went where and immediately wanted it plugged in so it could print.

Students read the Makerbot instructions

Students read the Makerbot instructions

Of course, we hadn’t even taken the safety clips off yet. Instead of reading the instruction manual during my planning period and slowly setting up the printer in a quiet setting, we dove right in. Two students read through the instruction manual and directed other students on the preparation of the machine. From cutting off the safety ties to mounting the spool of plastic, the kids worked together to set up their 3D printer. Since we ran out of time, the kids will print their first items tomorrow. They’ll also be blogging about their experiences as they go. In the time we had today, the teamwork they displayed as well as their problem-solving capabilities was enough to quash any doubters who feel these kids aren’t ready to grab 3D printing by the horns and truly own it.

Watching this process, I was extremely proud of my students. As we continue on this 3D printing journey, I’m excited to watch how they continue to develop their collaborative and critical thinking skills.

A student works on connecting our 3D printer

A student works on connecting our 3D printer

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