We are not far from the future, and pretty soon, regular classrooms will have 3D printers. In this episode, Tom and Tracy Hazzard interview Kiki Prottsman, Curriculum Development Manager at Code.org. They talk about 3D printing at home support and how the education aspects relate to what is happening to the 3D printing industry. Kiki explains how CODE.org has developed systems to professionally develop computer science curriculums in elementary schools through twelfth grade. Kiki also talks about how she started Kiki vs. IT and what it aims to achieve. Learn more about how teachers are approaching 3D printing courses in their classrooms and how 3D printing promotes limitless education.
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3D Printing At Home Support with Kiki Prottsman of CODE.org
We have an interview today with Kiki Prottsman about 3D printing at home support brought to you by our sponsor Robo3D. You can find Robo3d’s educational curriculum here. What is more important on this interview is how the education aspects relate to what is happening to the 3D printing industry. We’ve talked many times on this show on the importance of the way to be successful is to model on something that already works. Model something that is already working on another industry or in another area. Here is a very clear case of how CODE.org has developed systems to professionally develop computer science curriculums in elementary schools and all the way through 12th grade. They really have a great model on how to help the teachers, how to support the students, and how to do it in a way in which you are advocating for the growth of computer science. It works if we translate and insert 3D printing here. It is the same kind of model that could work in our industry as well. It directly relates in that way. We have a lot of listeners that wanted to teach 3D printing, teach it in the curriculum, and integrate it in our lives. This will be a very relevant to those people.
How Kiki came across our desk here is that I was on a podcast called Tabletop Inventing which was a lot of fun. It was geared towards inventors. She was just so fascinating in how she talked about it. She was so passionate about it. It shows how she started coding, which was really interesting. It is a great podcast for those of you who are interested in that as well as 3D printing at home support. There is so much here that talks about 3D printing, and it was so apparent as we went through the interview.
What solidified it was this video that she put up. She has a YouTube channel called Kiki vs IT which provides more 3D printing at home support. I loved it because she is not afraid to try something that she is not comfortable with and has never done before. This particular one was a commenting on a Barbie book.
Hi Kiki, thank you so much for joining us to talk about 3D printing at home support. I’ve been really looking forward in having you in our show and since I heard your episode on Table Top Inventing.
Thank you so much for having me. It’s very exciting I love 3D printing. This is the topic that I’m very excited about.
Good! Well so are we. Let’s talk a little bit about your mission at CODE.org first and then we’ll get a little bit more to 3D printing at home support. Because, I think the mission that we’re going on here for advocating for 3D printing are very similar.
Yes, they are. They’re similar but they are different in a lot of ways and I’m looking forward to talking about that. At CODE.org, our mission is to make sure that every student has the opportunity to learn Computer Science. That’s very different from forcing every student to learn Computer Science. I think that Computer Science and 3D printing can go together well.
How are you going on with it? I remembered hearing and this is what caught my ear on the Table Top Inventing. You’re talking about 3D printing at home support which I was such an interesting and wonderful concept.
When we first started, there was not a lot of Computer Science in early grades at all. At that time, we just wanted to get some into the classroom for students that were interested. We were finding that we’re coming out against a lot of obstacles, mostly in the ways of teachers, whether teachers were feeling ready to do this. We realized quickly that more than leading a curriculum or something that allows students to learn; we needed support to work on the confidence for students and teachers.
We developed a lot of things that both could be done at home to explore about that individual learning and the confidence around learning. It has to do with things like having videos, having webinars, having resources that students and teachers can play with on their own time.
That’s really great because we have a large education-based audience. We have a lot of teachers who have been basically given a 3D printer and said to figure out how to teach it. It’s very frustrating for them because they feel lost in the shuffle. They don’t have a place where they can go. They’re not really part of the 3D print communities so they don’t know all resources. That’s why they go to our podcast. They don’t feel that it’s also geared to them – it’s geared to sell a printer, to sell software. It’s not geared to help them figure out what to do.
There isn’t a community that is focused for educators that they’re already comfortable in.
Yes, I think that’s a big part of it is that when you’re coming to it from the outside, whether it’s Computer Science or 3D printing, you feel like an outsider for a very long time. You don’t self-identify as a computer scientist or as a maker, maybe.
You feel like those things are for other people. You’re somehow trespassing on something. One of the things you need to do in order to allow people to find their wings is have a way for them to feel comfortable, explore, and feel like everything they’re doing right now is okay. It’s all a normal step in becoming someone who knows how to do these things.
That’s so great! I love that “find their wings”. I think that’s kind of so much why we have our podcast here. It is that we always joke that if you knew what you know about your couple of years at 3D printing, you probably wouldn’t have gotten started with it. That ignorance really halts you because it’s a lot harder than it is. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth-doing. It’s overwhelming. It’s a mountain scale. You don’t always realize that at the bottom.
I think we have a habit in our culture of assuming that either you don’t know something or you do and either you don’t know it yet or once you’ve been taught it, you know it. For those of us who have lessons on how to do something. We still don’t feel like we know it. We feel like either we failed in some way or that maybe it’s not for us because we didn’t learn it immediately.
We don’t tend to have recognition that this is a process. It is a long process. What they say is that it takes 10,000 hours for you to become an expert of something or become good at something. Those two are different things. In many ways, I think the approach is just to be able to consider yourself to be really good, right?
We don’t allow people those 10,000 hours. What do you call the person in the middle? The person who’s neither doesn’t know anything about it nor do they know how to do it. I feel like the whole time the people in the middle, people tend to sit there and tell themselves, “I’m just not good at this.” We need to find a way to have that growth mindset – to change it from I’m-not-good-at-this to wow-I-still-have-a-lot-to-learn. This is fun.
That’s a great point. I agree. Tracy and I were talking about the 10,000 hours. We certainly read about that. We’ve been aware of it. It’s the difference between really having something to be so second nature in terms of the details and how you’ll cope to something. It is just like breathing.
We’ve always pointed to the best examples of the 10,000 hours – making what you do so instinctual. You are really an expert to this. You know the pilot, Sully Sullenberger, who had the bird strike leaving from the airport and had to land in the Hudson River? He didn’t think about what he just knew, “This is what I got to do”. He lands that plane and everybody lived.
You’re right. It is messy in the middle. This is the problem that we have. I just have so many e-mail from the second or third time a teacher who’s, I think is from Indiana, trying to integrate 3D printing into their curriculum at the school where she teaches at. She was charged with it and e-mails me with another question: “What do you really like about the organization? You’re really helping people learn and also helping people teach.”
We really cover both sides of it. Maybe because codes and computers, that whole industry – the software industry, is much more mature that the desktop 3D printing industry is. It doesn’t have the chance to get to this point but there is really no such organization right now to help support learning and teaching. A lot have been put on. How do I teach it and create some curriculum?
There’s no one organization you could get to. Teachers ask us where there’s a community we could go to, to get help in this. One that’s not intimidating, that’s not techy, and that doesn’t feel like their industry speak speaks teacher.
First of all, I wanted to track back and say it’s really funny to have somebody say that “the Computer Science Industry is more mature than theirs” because we’re not really used to that. To us, we kept getting told that’s such a new field. There’s no research yet. But in many ways, you’re absolutely correct.
While there’s been 3D building, for sure, happening for a very long time and making, in general. The 3D printing is such a new realm. Teachers are struck by how new it is. They feel like there’s so many experts around them already. How do they get to that place?
It’s not only that. When you’re learning something first time as an adult, how do you modify that and learn how to teach it to children? Because you didn’t learn it as a child so you didn’t have that experience of “Oh! This is how I was taught! I can go ahead and tweet that”.
It is very important that we have resources that approach the teacher and approach the student by seeing how long value it took for Computer Science. On one hand, I’m tempted to say that it’s kind of a long time before that emerges and it feels like 3D printing. On the other hand, when you think of how well 3D printing can illustrate the things that we’re teaching in Computer Science, also things like robotics. When you think of how well all those things can group together, it is almost a party that can travel together.
It is an opportunity for the tide to rise and all of those subjects.
Wow! That’s an amazing perspective! To think that we need to put ourselves in the shoes of the young people that need to learn this. As we get to be adults, we sometimes forget what it was like to be a kid in that kind of situation. I think that’s really critical to understand how to think in order to be an effective teacher.
You’ll love this Kiki. We just did this project last week with our daughter, Lannea, who’s 7. She had to do a diorama for school of Polar Bears. It was her topic. It was a research project on polar bears but pretty basic elementary school project.
She was researching the project and she said that she wanted to put a real polar bear in the diorama. We had this polar bear puzzle that we’ve had for a long time in the house. It’s kind of a household thing. She wants to put it on and I said, “You know I’m not going to let that puzzle go to school”. It’s something that has been in the family for a long time.
Why don’t we 3D print it? I thought it was the greatest thing ever. What was really fun was that she got into the idea and she started to do more research and realized that polar bears have twin babies very often. So, we had to print two little polar bears.
She was getting into it. We didn’t create models. We just downloaded them and printed them but to see that from her perspective, she was like, “Oh! I could just print another one”. That into itself is so exciting!
It really is limitless education. I mean, when I look at my sons and what they’ve been recently doing. One of my sons did a project on Egypt. He wanted to do the pyramids but he wanted to show his hypothesis on how they were constructed. He wanted to have several of them and some of them still in the building phase. But we did not have enough yellow building blocks to do that many pyramids and if we would have been able to just turn to something like a 3D printer and create a model of what we wanted the pyramids to look like, we could have 3D-printed the entire thing from his imagination.
Opportunities like that for a child to really be able to put out what’s in their brain, versus having to stop at the limits of what you might have at hand. That teaches a child a whole different way of thinking.
That goes actually to the point of where I wanted to head a little bit in our conversation. Though in that situation, it requires you to be not in the classroom all the time and have a little 3D printing at home support. That requires us as parents to be supportive at home of coding, and 3D printing and all these things as that.
They can’t spend the hours you need to become, to experience that; to build those models, to do those things unless you have that 3D printing at home support as well. That is a mission of what you are doing in CODE.org.
It is. We really do focus on the in-school opportunity but we do recognize that having that at-home capability is super important. For most students’ stand point, it’s important because right now, if you make something at school only, the connotation of it changes with the child. It becomes school work. It’s not fun. If it’s something that they get home and play with on their own time, on their own terms, and then they do change the perspective of what they see, right?
Yes, I totally understand that’s where it becomes a career path, becomes a mission, and becomes an obsession. I remember as a kid growing up, in the mid 80’s of growing up through high school, my pursuits were always rebuilding a lot more engines like lawn mowers. That’s when I started to learn to drive and fixing up my car. That involved an intense amount of learning and effort outside the school. Never teach those things at my school.
Although there is an Industrial Arts at that time which I was big into, however it vanished in a little while later until now it seems we were resurging with 3D printing. I think, with the amount of time they give our students and school to be focused on any one subject or another. These things like coding, like learning CAD to build up a model, you’re going to 3D print it or even 3D printing itself. You can’t go to school and expect in the 45 minute or an hour class, you’ll be able to 3D print anything from start to finish. The printer is just not that fast.
Having that passion and support at home for that passion is so critical otherwise, you will never accomplish anything. You could even hardly scratch a surface, I would think.
That’s exactly true. Giving students the opportunity to be interested enough to pursue it on their own is the second half of that. Like you were saying when we were younger, we had interests and we spend our time doing them. That included a large amount of studying. But it wasn’t stuff that we were learning from school. It was the stuff we were thrilled about. That is the half things like YouTube which is a resource that I can’t even imagine what my life would turn out like if I had YouTube to learn things off of when I was a kid.
You see these kids learning intense amount of things they’re passionate about. Maybe it’s not about anything that’s going to help them out when they’re older. They’re learning how to learn. If you can take that excitement and be able to package it up into subjects that can help them in other areas like Computer Science, like 3D printing and making, it’s such a powerful time for students. They’d feel in control of what they’re learning and what they are doing.
Obviously the access bit is a huge bit. As we’re moving to a society where a more and more students have computers at home and more and more students have resources to do these things that they, maybe, can’t even do at school. We’re actually moving to a place that equity problem is becoming worse. That smaller number of kids that doesn’t have this kind of thing at home, they feel it more. It becomes more painful and more pronounced.
Isn’t that a shame? It’s such a wonderful technology and advances that are happening to really expand the educational opportunities for our children are going to further polarize us. It will leave behind the whole group of kids. I can’t stand the idea of that.
We look at the future very positively here. Yes, 3D printing is difficult to learn. Yes, it sounds like a scale-up and printers are excruciating, really difficult. You need a lot of hacking to make them work. We get that but it doesn’t diminish the future opportunity we see and that’s what we are so passionate about.
There’s such a future career opportunity for amazing designers to come up in the future and be such a critical part of the economy. What excites me the most is the idea that they don’t have those paradigms. So, if we get them learning 3D printing on the elementary schools age, since it’s what we’ve been talking, when you don’t feel like an expert, that’s why we have these adults. That’s like, “Oh! We’re not an expert of learning all these.”
There’s still so much to learn in 3D printing, it is such an iterative process. There’s always something more to learn, always something more to improve. I actually believe that the mindset changes that will shift in our kids will actually filter that out somewhat so you don’t have to be an expert. That’s not the important part. Having that is just a title that you’re always going to be “I have this much experience” and “I’m continually learning in that”. Continual learning iteration because so many of us hold ourselves back. You said something about that because they hold us back. We don’t feel like we’re experts. We should just stop. We’re not good at this.
I agree with you a hundred percent. I believe that the way students are going to get to that place where they believe that they can get better; that they believe if they’re an expert, as long as what they’re doing now is working for them, it’s going to be by modelling it to some degree.
We need adults who can show them that behavior. But we also need to praise them for that behavior when they aren’t seeing it from others. We need to be able to actually recognize it and say “Wow! You’re right! You’re right. You could do more of that. You’re right that it was amazing that you did them out like what you did” To be able to call it out and let them know something that’s admirable. It’s very important.
That’s why we love 3D printing because there’s a lot of successful and very fast failure but it doesn’t feel like failure. It’s just like, “Oh! It did not work.” And go back to the drawing board, sit, and try it again because it’s so accessible like that. It doesn’t make you feel like a failure.
Yes, absolutely. One of the things: talking more about that gap that’s growing, “some people being able to have these resources at home and some not”, I think that is another reason why just having them at home as a resource is not enough. We know that there is a time crunch at school. The ability to get thirty students to print something on one 3D printer is a challenge.
Obviously, school is not necessarily going to be enough. That’s why the libraries make bigger spaces and the community elements are going to become so important in the very near future. They can cultivate the stuff, the beliefs, the ideas, and skills in a way that it is harder to do either on your own or in school.
It gives students the ability to be very independent and come when they want to come, and work what they want to work on. Since it’s almost the best of both worlds, it helps reduce that equity gap because now you have a place where anyone can go if they show an interest.
We see that a lot especially when we’re here in Southern California. We see a lot of maker-spaces and private organizations filling that gap like Vocademy and Urban Workshop . There are lots of more local ones. They’re not bigger organizations. They are trying to help provide this opportunity for people. I don’t know enough parents understand that it is available and get their kids involved in it and have a different version of 3D printing at home support with these programs.
It’s a gap on both sides because us as parents, we have a lot of things going on. We may not be technically set to be enough to support you. We could buy a 3D printer for our kids but we may not be able to run it if we don’t have enough time to learn them ourselves. There has to be a place that fills that gap for them. I love these maker-spaces have popped-up. They’ve really embraced that area. A lot of them do it for very low cost and sometimes none at all.
I think that’s where maker-spaces and schools need to take responsibility for getting the word out of these resources. As schools approach these kinds of topics, they need to be able to have some flyer or handout that they could pass on to the kids to say, “Hey! If you like this, here’s the way you can find out more about it.”
People get use to their routine and don’t necessarily look around to see all of the amazing things popping-up around them. Parents are very likely to say, “Oh! That’s not some place I would feel comfortable, so they’re going to assume that “this some place my child wouldn’t like to go”. We need to have some resource that the child can hand to them – their parent. They’d say “I want this. I want to do this”
I totally agree there is no difference of it from a sport.
We get the message about – the local community sports programs – and other things like that but we don’t get the message all about our team’s organization.
Absolutely, if you think about things like basketball, soccer, baseball, those all are very standard. Parents used to take their kids to those kinds of practices and yet, if a child wants to try rugby or water polo, a parent might not have any idea on how to approach finding a team for that.
It much seems more approachable. How do we start? Then, something that is completely a different animal, you are no longer talking sports. You are outside of that soccer mom realm altogether and I’m making air coats but you can’t see them. You’re out of that realm together. Suddenly now, it is completely formed and very uncomfortable. Being to have even just a conversation around it and let the parents know that it is approachable and there is help. I think it is vital.
You’re right. That’s the same thing in terms of talking about the teachers who feel out of their element. Some of us parents feel out of our element too. Addressing that is a critical importance to make sure that access happens.
I am struck by how often I feel out of my element technological in making things when this is my home. This is what I do for a living. This is what I’ve been studying for my life. There will still be things that I approach them the first time then I go, “Oh! Scary! I’ll delay this for a very long time because I don’t know if I can actually know how to do it”
That’s where the Kiki vs IT theme came about – creating videos that show me messing with things that I normally wouldn’t be comfortable with. It is for people to see that we fail. It is for people to see process of debugging, going through, trying again, and conquering the fear to get started with in the first place.
That is something that can be modelled for students. It should be modelled by parents. It should be modelled by teachers. They can be very vocal and say, “Hey! We got this 3D printer from our parents and we’re going to try something with it but I have never used it before. We’re going to need to research about it. We need to find resources on how to use it. There are going to be mistakes”
If we get teachers to the point where they are comfortable and meeting even they’re not an expert, where they are comfortable meeting along with the students, that’s not actually detrimental. That’s actually beneficial even though it might feel a little awkward when the principal comes in and you don’t know what you are doing
That’s so true. In the design world, we tend to be a little comfortable with that because that’s going to help the design process work. It’s always filling the air. Everything is new every day. We have a higher tolerance for that failure process or feeling you are out of your element.
We’re always out of our element. We live in that messy discomfort level but not everybody is. That’s importance to feel incompetent in what you are doing. Part of it is we found some of our teachers talked about others, if we can just get them over that initial barrier, if we could just get them started, they’d feel there’s a support structure underneath themselves somewhere they could reach out themselves, no one’s going to say that’s a stupid question.
There’s a place for them like that. Then they become advocates and passionate about it. We have met teachers that would say, “I don’t want a 3D printer. I don’t want them in my classroom. It’s going to be destruction. I don’t want it.”
Then a year later everyone wants to change the course to make it about 3D printing. Everyone wants to change the curriculum. To see that happen, that’s the level we want: that’s the teachers we want.
That’s contagious too because you can’t just get a few teachers to adapt it and then give them a forum where they can voice what they have done. It could be something as simple as a Facebook page or a Google+ page. It could be whatever it might be so that they can say, “Hey! Here’s what I did. Here’s something that you can download for your classroom.”
You can start this and go into the classrooms with the teachers that get education. They start to create resources that make it possible for the other teachers to do the same thing. Someone posted to our Google+ page our affiliates. We had them post something the other day where a teacher took a 3D printer and 3D-printed blocks for the students to use. Not just any blocks, they were braille blocks so that our blind students could code right along with the rest of the class.
When you see stuff like that, we you see problems solved like that, it might not even be a 3D printing lesson. It might just be, “We have this opportunity now to make things work better. That is really what 3D printing is for.
What a wonderful example of using 3D printing! It’s not about 3D printing. It’s about creating a tool that was needed to help someone to solve a problem. That’s the future of 3D printing. It will be another tool in the tool box. It’s not like this big scary thing.
We’ve come out across a couple of things where people use 3D printing to help the blind. It makes some sense. It’s like a map of a university. It’s map of Texas A&M University’s campus that they created. It’s a campus map. It was all done in braille and 3D so you could have a sense of what the elevations felt like too.
It does make a lot of sense. You have to have these skills added to your mental tool box before you even think of solving a problem of using them. That is the hurdle that we are trying to jump right now. The place we’re at right now is getting those powers of expertise so that a teacher now feels like, “This is something I can draw from when I need it.” At the same time they are learning to get those, we can get them to give them to the students as well.
I think this is a problem here on and off. I am wondering how you are solving these, if there is any solution probably, we hear a lot of teachers who are frustrated by the fact that they just dump the 3D printer in the classroom and say, “Here you go and learn it! By the way, we’re not paying you the hours to learn it”.
That’s really frustrating. Me as a parent, it makes me angry but as a professional, it makes me more angry than that. That is not a proper respect of somebody’s time. It can’t be good because they can’t devote what’s necessary to learn at.
They might not even want you when they approach you in that way. This is a burden. It’s not an opportunity when somebody just says, “Hey! You’re doing this.” It was a lot more frequent in the beginning than now but do get teachers who have been told that this is going to happen in their classroom.
They come with a more negative attitude often times than the other teachers do. They might not have the belief or the willingness to jump right in like the other teachers do. A vital part in making this so successful is that you have to understand that happens. You have to provide support for those teachers that aren’t looking forward to this. A big part of that support comes from other teachers. A big part of that comes from just having a community where you’ll be embraced. People can help fight all those fears.
In our professional development sessions, we have a whole unit. We’ll have them sit down and write out all of the hurdles they can think of. Basically, all that venom that is building up that you want to spit because you are so mad. You have to do this. Let it out. Let us know what it is. Let your fellow teachers know what it is. Let’s talk through it. Then, the teachers will help solve their problems.
We don’t always act that we are the number one experts in what a teacher feels; in what a teacher needs. We let the other teachers help. It really does help change the attitude of that teacher. We have them lead much more often than not. I’m not just saying it. It actually happens. Their entire attitude turns around and they start to enjoy it. But if they never had that opportunity to voice their fears and grievances, the opportunity to meet teachers who are making it successful, then who knows how long they could just look at as something they have to do? Then, everybody suffers.
That’s so interesting! This is the second thing in the last couple of days where I have heard of non-tech support for something you do technically. I was talking to one of the founders of Growth X Venture Capital Firm. It’s more than adventure from an organization. They are putting together programs for the non-tech to support techs startups – for sales, marketing, and other thing. They’ve been treated like outsiders but they’re so critically important to the success of the startup.
Part of it was how to get over a fear that they’re not technical; that they get called non-tech founders if you have a founder of a company that’s not the coder. It already has a negative quotation on you. That’s horrible to do that to teachers as well. “You’re a non-tech teacher” That’s terrible. You got to give them a chance to get it out.
When you think about the majority of the support of the teacher needs, it’s not actually a technical support. The best way to learn this is to do it, to fail, to figure things out, and then move-on on your own. That is what you called technical support to do.
Technical support is just the fast-forward to the answer. That’s not necessarily what the teachers need. They need a competence support. They need to understand that it is important not to fast-forward to success. They have to go through the steps in the meantime. That’s what turns them into technical people.
Building those supports is a little bit harder. It’s also underfunded quite often. People don’t realize necessarily that it is the kind of support that they need. They just need the support about giving a good curriculum, of giving someone to talk to, having a mentor.
You think of giving young girls mentors to help them on their pathway but we don’t always think of this teacher could use as a mentor while they’re running this subject. These are the kinds of things that really help make a teacher successful rather than necessarily going in and say, “Oh! We’ll solve all your problems. We’ll set it up so you have to do is make a run.” That’s not healthy. That’s not helping anyone.
Let’s start wrapping up here and talk a little bit about how people can get involved in CODE.org and what they can do. I think all of it is tight to get there – learning and coding and CAD, and all of those things really need support. How can we support your organization?
We are definitely in need of support in so many different ways. We have facilitators all over the country who go and give PD’s in Computer Science in order for teachers to understand that it is something that they can do.
We need parents all across the country to request it of their teachers. In the cable where I work, the PD’s are only a day long. They’re free. They’re intended to be teachers of any subjects. You could literally go to the homeroom teacher of your student and say, “I would really like to see my kid doing this” “Can you go to the map and look up a professional development in our location? Our goal is to have affiliates in every state who are giving these PD’s.
Are they doing these live? Is that the idea? That it’s a real live thing?
It is a real live thing. We prefer that the teachers undergo real live workshops. We give them supplies. They go through and learn to do the lessons. Once they finished training, we give them supplies to actually do the lessons with their students which are very unique especially when it’s free.
It’s an experience full of fun. It’s only one day, 8 hours. It’s something that the teachers tend to love. It’s so much fun to give them so much fun. You’re going to watch them. We also need volunteers for classrooms so we have a place on code.org where you can sign-up to volunteer in classroom. A teacher will go on and type there the code and say, “We would like someone to come in and talk to our class about these technical things”. We can volunteer to be one of those people.
We are offer them free, so we are looking for donations. You can go to code.org/donate to look at that.
I love this idea on teachers because there are so many 3D print professionals out there doing a 3D hub in the local communities already. This would be just another great outreach and exposure for them.
Being able to tie back to coding and a lot of people think that they could use 3D printing in the same way you might use Photoshop. You can call that Computer Science. It is computing. It is technology but that’s not the same. You really need to go higher to the Computer Science that’s behind it because there is a tunnel. It is being able to talk about how this can be automated, how it helps solve problems; that what makes it vitally as a Computer Science. Not enough people know that. Not enough people link those two. Definitely, there are professionals who are willing to do that would be huge.
There are a lot of similarities but they’re different things- coding vs the hacking on what we called 3D prints. That’s a different level. It might be a nice challenge to throw out there to anyone who’s professional at both – coding and 3D printing. That would be great to see some block-based 3D printing made with an emulator where it shows in 3D what your printer would look like going through printing at your model so that classrooms don’t actually have access to a 3D printer for every student, could share that experience even with the young ones.
Everyone’s out there listening so give it a Go!
We have some of those because every time I start talking about the design processes, we always get in a little Twitter argument.
There is something that relates. There are CAD, not 3D printing models, but the creation of CAD models that’s physically challenging by code happens. There are several programs like S-tad and some other things that work that way. Some people do use codes to create 3D printing models. Then it has processed to become a 3D print.
This doesn’t sound like going on. There’s a lot across over.
There can be as much as you want. There can be as little as you manage. It depends where your competence is.
While we really applaud the organization, I love it Kiki. I love your YouTube videos. In fact, that was what absolutely sold me contacting you was your video that you did about the Barbie book. It made me as a designer as offended as it made you as a Computer Science professional. That makes it sound like what I do is drop pictures as bad as that.
I was so glad that somebody else said something because it horrified me too.
That’s what we’re trying to get out. We want this to be a test for all experiences. We want every student to believe that they can do this. That’s why I’m so proud to be part of code.org because we knew fast. We try things out. We adapt and try to make it better. We try to make it as good as every single student possibly can. It’s been a thrilling ride.
I’m so excited that you are doing this and you’re helping to bring these opportunities you your listeners. Thank you so much for having me!
3D Printing At Home Support with Kiki Prottsman of CODE.org – Final Thoughts
There are so many great things to talk about the interview about 3D printing at home support. That was a lot of fun. What I really love about it is that they were trying to create equal access. It is equal access on how we think about it as well. It’s not just a money thing. It’s not just making sure that every single classroom has a 3D printer, or every single classroom or school has a computer science curriculum that is available to them. It is not just about that. That is an important part of the equality gap that is going on, but it is that we all need to be able to move into a mutual place at which it is possible that we can learn this. It is not out of the realm of possibility. It is not feeling so over whelming in terms of its possibility that it can happen in.
That is why I am so attracted in supporting that, because I think that somewhere along the lines in our career, it got to a point where I said, “I am not going to learn CAD.” I do not know if I regret it. I think I regret it now that we are in 3D printing, I didn’t regret it before. I think I regretted it a little bit from the standpoint that I have a lot more ideas than we can physically get out. If I have the manpower or ability to do that we could do, then it will be great.
I grew up in a home where in the early 70s or 80s, we had computers in our home. My mother is a computer science engineer and she went to college before there were computer science programs, and she got a degree in electrical engineering which is the closest thing they have. There is a whole tech center around Boston which is where we lived when I was younger. She worked on those companies. She was bringing out small computers home all the time, working with them. She had entire computers to run on 32 KB of memory which is incredibly small by today’s standards. I have been exposed to this stuff from a very young age. We had computers at home with earlier computing systems before Windows and all the sorts of stuffs.
When I was doing my school work like my lab reports on Science, I was doing that printing on computers when nobody was. Teachers were fascinated with that. I didn’t think that it may be any better, but I think it may be easier for me to do things because my handwriting was terrible and I could print things out with these screaming printers at the time that would wake my parents in the morning. Those things were really loud.
I have always thought that if I wanted to do something or take advantage of something regarding computers or software or high technology stuff for our personal knowledge or business, which I just go out and do it. There was no one that was going to teach me because it was so new. I don’t think that I am not in the right frame of mind to be able to help our kids the best way to learn 3D printing or to learn on how to use software. I remember trying to teach my grandfather how to use a Mac in the year 2000 or so. He was always using a typewriter, and he was trying to write down his World War II memoirs. It would be a whole lot easier if he would use a computer, and so he agreed and paid the money. He got a computer, and I tried to teach my grandfather on how to use a computer. It was an exercise in futility. I could not teach him how to do it.
Teaching the Fundamentals
In that case, it has been a terminology problem. It is a basic concept issue that we in the industry see. This is part of the problem that we are not supporting the educators that are not very into 3D printing, and we keep using the same language. In that case where you are trying to teach your grandfather, the idea of what a cursor and a mouse is and how it moves and did all that was what confounded him. He was disconnected from the actual screen itself. It was like, “How was that thing moving when I am moving this thing down here?” He was in his mid 80s at that time, so it was hard for him.
We need to go to a fundamental level to teach something and we don’t get that, but teachers do. They understand this as this is how they break it down for our kids and our students. They know to break it down to a fundamental level. That is why they are teaching, that is why they are gifted, and that is why they are good at what they do. We forget that we have to support them that same way. Otherwise, we are not going to get them excited, passionate, and they are not going to teach our children. They are just going to say that it is too much trouble, and they are going to skip it. I think 3D printing should be an immersive technology. I want her to be there always and I want it to be an opportunity for her and that there will always be a possibility that I could print this.
That is one of the most fascinating part about it, but we can’t get to that level if we don’t get past that mindset problem. I think that that is the case of a lot of industries right now. It is not just here. We are struggling with this every day. We have been teaching people how to podcast and there is this mindset that the podcasting itself is too techy. It is really not that hard. There are some things that you need to learn, but I think that it is way easier than learning how to code or learning how to create CAD models for 3D printing, or on how to run a 3D printer.
It is all in the Mind
There is also this mindset intimidation factor that we have. Podcasting for instance is something for celebrities, or you have to be a broadcaster. You just need to have something to say, a point of view, and you have to be comfortable speaking. We have things we want to explore because we learn something new. There is really a place to do that. If you can’t get over the mindset that you are never going to be a podcaster because I am not that kind of broadcast material, then you won’t reach anything. It’s the same thing with people right now who are getting on video. They are afraid to go on Periscope. But what they do, because they are not the typical host type material, they don’t get into it. When videocasting is compared to podcasting, podcasting is way easier because you don’t have to look good when you are podcasting. We stumbled on how much fun podcasting is, and we have so much fun doing this. We then decided on doing what we are most comfortable and what is more fun for us.
We need to give these teachers the opportunity to feel comfortable with it. There are a lot of disconnected efforts going on, that we learn about where curriculum is being created here or there. There are different printer manufacturers that are reaching out to the education community. They are trying to sell to those communities, but some of them are really doing some useful and helpful things in creating curriculum having regional meetings around the country, trying to educate the educators who wanted to learn more about 3D printing. A really appropriate forum or online community where teachers are able to exchange information is vital. A Facebook group doesn’t really cut it. It needs to be something different. It needs to be easy for them to access and help a signing board with each other. I know we are trying to provide a lot of that, here on 3Dstartpoint.com, but even our website is not built to be that kind of a conduit for teachers. Somebody else has to create that.
Tapping onto Opportunities
I think this is the modelling problem that Kiki was talking about. There is a modelling way to go about that, and how to show them to do things. There is a model that is working here. There is a model of how to reach teachers and teach them something that is complicated. There is a model for how that works, and every single 3D print manufacturer and software company all think that they need to invent their own thing. The reality is that we just need to go out there and say, “If this is already working, then there is going to be a lot of greater acceptance from the education community.” Go where they are already instead of starting all over from scratch and expecting them to show up where you are. It just doesn’t work like that. Today we are too busy. I just read this article about Slack, and that it is growing so strong. Slack is replacing emails because there are so many people who don’t want to deal with their email anymore.
Think about that. How are you going to reach them if they are not going to open their emails anymore? I don’t even open 80% of my emails anymore. Anything that appears to be any kind of solicitation or generic type of thing, I don’t have to look at. I have so much email to go through; I don’t have time to look through those things. I think that it is telling not just from a how you can manage your time better, because everybody is struggling with that, but also from a place which your messages are not going to get out there, if you are trying to get it out. It is not going to happen anymore. You have got to go where I’ve decided to situate myself. You’ve got to come to me.
I really love what they are doing. They are doing these to communities and encouraging them. I love the idea of community volunteers to it. That is a really great idea and that it is highly possible with it. There are enough people who will volunteer for sure, to get help the message out and try to bring people together. That is fine. I am not concerned about that, but the resource for teachers to connect from all over the country and maybe all over the world, is that there are a lot of things that could be morphed into it. There is really nothing that is there today. 3D printing at home support is a problem that needs to be solved.
Why don’t you say to your teachers, administrators, and others out there, “Why don’t you get in touch with us? Let us know the places that are logical to you that you would want to have something like that, and maybe we can advocate for you and reach out to sponsors?” I have been seeing Google and other places like this that they are reaching businesses by marketing through and sponsoring a lot of the temporary text spaces, so you go into it and you have your temporary office space in there. You rent it by the month and you just spend hours or do work in that particular space. They are using these tele-work spaces. And in sponsoring them, they are getting exposure for their tech. In the community level, you got to go and sponsor a STEAM Maker Workshop or an Urban Workshop or perhaps Vocademy. You got to sponsor this in order to get that message into the local community. That maybe the best way to go for 3D printing at home support, but I don’t know.
Why don’t you guys tell us? There are a lot of teachers who are communicating through or in branching off and making specific areas regarding the subject of 3D printing at home support. It might be doable but it is something that is completely new or needed to build something on the 3DStartpoint to build it within. I want this to be solved because this is a big issue to a lot of people. I don’t think we could be the conduit, but that is something that we need to address.
Let us figure this out, because the sooner that this happens, the sooner this helps the industry as a whole. You can then teach it to your kids and do it in your own homes and offices. That helps everyone out there.
- Robo3D educational curriculum
- Table Top Inventing Podcast
- Kiki vs IT YouTube channel
- Kiki vs IT – Computer Engineer Barbie
- Urban Workshop
- Texas A&M University Braille Campus Map
- Is There an Online Community of Teachers 3D Printing?
- Growth X
About Kiki Prottsman
Kiki is Education Program Manager at Code.org and a former computer science instructor at the University of Oregon. As a champion for responsible computing and equity in both CS employment and education, Kiki works with many organizations to improve the experience of girls and women in STEM. Her landmark work with the hands-on Traveling Circuits computer science curriculum helped Thinkersmith receive the 2013 Google RISE Award for excellence in Science and Engineering. She currently sits on the Advisory Board for Wonder Workshop Robotics, and is a member of the Leadership team for the Oregon Girls Collaborative Project.
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