Kids don’t have to be the only ones headed back to school this fall! Now that the kids are back in school, it may be time for you to take some classes and improve your 3D Printing skills. Tom and Tracy Hazzard take a peek into how 3D printing is revolutionizing the classroom in every subject from English to History to Chemistry, for kids and adults.
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Back to 3D Printing School
It is back to school time and that includes going back to 3D printing school. We are now past Labor Day and everybody should be back in school by now. Thank goodness. Summer here is a little bit crowded, glad they are back at school. Now that they are, is that an opportunity for the rest of us? I think it is a perfect opportunity for us to go back to 3D printing school and learn 3D printing. Or go back and get back on task to learn something new and advanced in 3D printing. It is time for us to be structured about it. If kids have homework, then maybe we should have some homework too. During the summer, we try to enroll our kids in all sorts of things to try and keep them busy. Now, kids are back at school maybe that is an opportunity for us to enroll and sharpen our skills as it involves in 3D printing
I also want to talk a little bit about some of the things that you can do with your kids, the thing about 3D printing and school work that you have to be really careful about is being careful about taking too much of your time as an adult. You have to balance that out, or if it’s taking too much time away from their studies if it is about their work. You know, if they are just starting or are new to 3D printing or if they are of older age groups, I would say 7th or 8th grade or older, maybe 6th, but it depends on how mature your kid is.
7th grade and older definitely, it can be a time suck and you have to really be careful to balance regular school work and regular 3D printing time, because it is not that it’s not good and they are not learning something, but you also have school work to balance. You’ve got to be careful not to plan projects that are to be 3D printed, especially if they do not have enough skills. They will take too much time away from the regular school work to do it and or, and this is the part where it gets scary, is where it takes too much of your time in fixing the 3D printer or getting things set up or prepping a file because it is not right for them.The next thing you know, you are immersed in their project and you shouldn’t be.
When I was a teenager, I would have been so focused on spending too much time doing things for 3D printing if it were around as I could have, I would have been like, “To heck with my other class work.” You just as a parent have to be cognisant of that because it is one of the things where it gets obsessive and you get in the middle of a project or a design and you are going in and you won’t quit. I see that happen so often with Tom and I know what it is like with Lannea when she gets in to a project and she is hard to tear away too. She is young.
It is one of the things that most parents should be aware of. You should be aware of it yourself if you don’t have a lot of time and you are diving into something as well and thinking, “Well it is just a few hours every week to it.” It won’t be a few hours if you get excited and interested in it, it would take a lot more of your time and you will just continue to devote it. Look at it as balanced and maybe it is an assignment of time allocation, “I am going to spend two hours working on learning this particular skill and then if I don’t get it then I am going to go on another week and spend on another two hours on it.” You just sort of assign your time that way. That is the best balance for you as an adult. With kids it is harder. You need to be on them to make sure they are doing the regular school work.
3D Printing School Meets Home School
I think 3D printing school really becomes about context in terms of how you are going to use 3D printing whether it is for yourself now taking time and spending more time learning and giving experience in it or if it is making sure projects for your kids are structured to use it. We have some friends that home school their kids. I would never do that in a million years. It is not my cup of tea. More power to them.
I feel really like I would be in over my head. But you know, there are a lot of support programs for home schooling out there including support for 3D printing projects. You really go online, there is a lot of communities working on home schooling projects and various things like that. There are makerspaces that have support for home schools. Some of the makerspaces out there, some of those have in like regular after school projects can also do home school sort of field trips.
You can put them in for a couple of hours and have them have an experience of learning. It can even be CNC and not just a 3D printing school but there are all sorts of things that they can learn there. That is a great supplement for home schooling. It is one of the ways that you can expand especially if you don’t have the skills and don’t have the time to add your skills as the home school teacher.
3D Printing in the Classroom
Whether you are doing 3D printing school in home schooling or you are actually in a traditional school environment. I think that we found this infographic that I think would be really interesting for our listeners and for all of you involved in education any which way. Even if you are just trying to educate yourself, would be interested in. It is called revolutionizing the classroom. It gives suggestions for how 3D printers can be used in the classroom and in different subject matters.
If you have got a child who is adept at it and they got the 3D printing and the CAD skills sort of under their belt from a basic standpoint. Now you want to do some kind of applied learning. This is an excellent way to do it. It is like how do you apply it to biology, how do you apply it to social studies? You have for instance; biology could be 3D printing cross sections of an organ of some kind of the human body or a heart for instance, and really understanding about the chambers of the heart and how that works. You make a 3D printing project and then learn about something else as a result. Let’s 3D print the inside of a frog instead of actually dissecting the frog. The frogs would be very much in favor of that. They might be croaking and clapping.
Chemistry can print molecules that they can study. You remember one of the earlier 3D prints that we came across? This is a long time ago who was doing earrings that were molecules and it was one of the first kind of parametric 3D prints you could do where you had sliders, you can change the scale of it and things like that. You can change it form a sugar molecule to some kind of other chemical balance molecule. It was really cool, the idea of being able to create that sort of crystalline structure as well and create in a dimensions. That is way better than foam balls and some toothpicks. I’m so sick of foam balls.
3D printing school could involve cooking classes, you can design intricate molds that you are going to use for molding chocolate or molding ices and jello molds and things like that. Our daughter actually got a mold to create a Rice Krispy treat mold out of the Rice Krispy box, which is kind of cool. Who knows what you can put inside one of these molds? Certainly, you could make your own, no question.
Back when I was in high school, we had shop class and it included some automotive classes. I don’t know how many high schools and things have that today. I think a lot of the sort of more vocational schools or some of the maker spaces have opportunities to learn automobile stuff. I think that 3D printing replacement for modified car parts, which are another big opportunity. I think it could be really interesting to do some replacement parts, but I think it would even be fun from a sort of stylistic and fun personalizing your car project, especially if you are heading into 16 and you are going to get your license soon. Why not make new cup holders or a mount for your iPhone or smartphones in the car. Make sure it is hands free and out of the way. There are things like that and projects like that that they can take on and original design as opposed to replacement parts – which I am not a fan of.
If you are making an upgraded part, I think that would be interesting. Replacement parts, being a car guy myself and have my old Volkswagen, I have one of the classic problems of the old Volkswagen, and the old Air-Cooled Beetles, and Karmann Ghias is the window crank handles. This is back when we actually had to crank and rolled our windows up and rolled them down. Every car today has electric windows.
The window cranks were notoriously poorly engineered in the Volkswagen. They would break easily. I see an opportunity to explore with metal 3D printing some more and coming up with a little better structure that actually works. It’s replacement parts, but improve it in the process. Why is it breaking? Maybe it is because it is engineered badly to begin with. You have some engineering concepts that you are learning at the same time.
Here is another area of geography, learning about geography and doing topography. I think that would be a really cool project. That would be really fun to see. You almost need to send that one out to print because printing that in multicolour would be really cool. You could do it in FFF to begin with, but then send it out. It would be cool and satisfying to get back something that was topographic and in color. That would be really cool.
Even for students learning how two dimensional maps that try to indicate elevation and how that may translate into a physical three dimensional, even in a one color print would be really cool. Remember that episode where they did the Braille map at Texas A&M? Those kinds of things are other applications to the idea of the topographical use of 3D printing.
This is one of my favorite ideas, history classes. How can you integrate 3D printing into history classes? Printing out historic artifacts in order to be able to examine them yourself. I have a friend who is a history teacher in Connecticut at a private school there and he was messaging with me over Facebook last week about, “Hey do you have a recommendation for a 3D printer, I am trying to convince my school to allocate some money to do it.” To him, he was talking about the earliest human remains that they have found, they call her Lucy. They just figured out how Lucy died, that she fell.
Somebody has actually through an x-ray, and then modelling process, somebody has actually created Lucy’s bone structure as 3D models that they are openly sharing, that are free downloadable models. He thought the idea for the history class being able to incorporate 3D printing and having students being able to look at those models in the computer, print them out in 3D printing, and examine the skeletal structure as a learning experience. Then to compare that to how humans have evolved today.
Just the idea that you could not have to travel to a certain state to a museum to see a skeleton structure or a dinosaur bone structure or something that you can 3D print that yourself and examine it. That is pretty powerful. I also think that taking it even further in the ideas of creating this diorama of stuff which our kids do here in California. They recreate the mission San Juan which doesn’t always have the swallows coming home either. They recreate that. There are these kits that you buy at Michael’s and you assemble it.
You are not telling a new story that way, maybe you have a story in mind that you want to tell and you have the opportunity to transform that kit by adding pieces to it or by doing it completely from scratch and 3D printing and transforming it into an alternative story.
I know that in high school, my high school was really unusual. My high school actually had architectural drawing and engineering drawing kind of classes. I don’t think most schools have that now. Certainly that is in college, architecture and engineering programs, there are lots of opportunities for 3D printing. There are architectural models and printing out prototypes of creations in engineering, especially because these things can be really intricate.
You can create moving parts if you are an engineer, as well as hinges or parts within parts. You can go home and create buttons. We had an episode about buttons before and other things that you can create that are original designs. You are taking your original design of clothing or pillow or whatever it is that you are making, you are taking it a step further by adding embellishments to it that you created. I like that.
I think this infographic has some really good suggestions. I still also really love one of my favorite episodes that we have done in the past. One was the one where we did the sun clock, the sun dial. I loved that project. I think that is a great project because it covers so many different concepts at once. It is a good science project where you have concepts of time, concepts of taking things from two dimensions to three dimensions, or is it more of a three dimension to two dimension isn’t it? As well as a digital representation of a decidedly analog information of the sun rotating around the earth.
I think as we get back into the school year, I think as parents, as teachers, and whether you are in 3D printing or not, maybe you are part of a PTA or you are part of a community or makerspace. Now is the time to start planning those projects. I still do think as I started saying at the beginning of this episode, now that the kids are back at school and we do not have to worry about entertaining them. I remember a friend of ours from Texas was talking about how her kids are home during the whole school year and lamenting for the earth, for the old days of the 80’s.
Not just that, but I am thinking that the kids are home all summer long and how to structure their time and activity, it’s almost like she has to be a cruise director. That is what we were conversing back before over Facebook and saying basically in the 80’s, our parents were like, “Go outside and entertain yourselves.” They didn’t have to supervise us every 5 seconds and do all that. But, it is different nowadays. We seem to be in a world of technology overload and watching our kids at all times. Our daughter has one of those watches to where we can go out and she can call us instantly from anywhere. We can GPS locate her at a moment’s notice for when she is across the driveway.
It is a whole different world technology wise, which is pros and cons. But still, I think that now that kids are back at school and it is more structured regiment for system or structured schedule for them. I think that now there is an opportunity for the rest of us that don’t have to plan their schedules. The school system is doing it for them, that we can plan a few things for ourselves. If you are into 3D printing, figuring out what your next project is, how you are going to hone your own skills and push your edge of your envelope and your 3D printing experience.
If you haven’t dived into 3D printing, there is no perfect time. It’s back to school fall, so go ahead and dive in to 3D printing school. This is a long term skill building project for you. You have got to take the time to give yourself plenty of effort and time into it to really get good at it and not give up too soon. You can’t try to cram it in to something especially if you have something coming up like let’s say you really wanted to make a gift. Give yourself plenty of time to learn and do it and not try to cram it in because it just doesn’t work like that. 3D printing needs and the design of it needs to take its own path. It needs to let you experiment it and let you iterate. You got to give yourself plenty of time to do that.
There is no time like the present to get going and work on that. Whether you have your own 3D printer or you just want to get involved in a local makerspace, there is more and more keep popping up. There are lots more opportunities and more libraries that are getting them that you can get time on. There are a lot of ways that you can get your hands on, in, and around a 3D printer, and be furthering your own education in that or just your own projects. Even if you are well educated and you just want a project to learn with, you can find a way to do it. Reach out. It is getting more and more saturated within the communities in the United States. That is very exciting to see.
Especially in the educational community. I think that is getting more and more of topic. If your schools and your school districts aren’t talking about it, yet, they will be. Nobody wants to fall behind here. That is the thing. I was surprised when I am thinking about my friend, the teacher in Connecticut, I was saying that a lot of schools in your area already have it. If your school is looking for a reason to justify putting some money into it, keep it up with the Joneses in terms of schools is the biggest reason. When I was mentioning Montclair in New Jersey and how they have 3D printers put in their entire school systems from Kinder through community college. He wrote back saying they have it here, here, here, and here, but I said “Why are you asking me on how to help justify this?”
Still, I am surprised at his school, which is a private school, is really just starting to jump on the bandwagon here. I would think private schools need to justify more than others as to why you are spending that kind of money on tuition, you better be ahead of the game there. They should be early adopters too; in this case they are not, maybe not in a history classroom.It is happening. It is like one of the biggest market for 3D printers.
Be sure to connect with us on social media @3Dstartpoint or leave a comment below if you have any great 3D printing school projects that you’ve done.
- Revolutionizing the Classroom – Infographic
- 3D Printing School Summer Camps
- Online Support for 3D Printing School Teachers
- 3D Print Lucy Skeleton
- 3D Print Fossils with Clay Guillory of Titan 3D
- Digital Sundial 3D Printing School Project
- Just Do It – 3D Print Experience
- At Home 3D Printing School Support with Kiki Prottsman
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