3D print documentary film maker and previous WTFFF?! Podcast guest, Brian Federal, shares what he has found over the past year of the evolution of the 3D print classroom. He identifies the obstacles and issues that are hindering students ability to know about, to learn, and to use 3D printers and what this means for the next generation of product designers and those in engineering related fields.
At time we first had him on the podcast was because he was working on documentary really about 3D printing and many different things. I think he continues to work on that. I don’t think he’s ever going to be finished in his mind. It’s about 3D printing is a revolution. He’s been really studying it and working on it and documenting it from the very beginning.
In this case now, and what we’re talking about today with a 3D print classroom, is what he’s really found over the last year as he’s been going around the country and researching. He’s finding the obstacles and issues in our education system that are hindering the advancement of learning, and in particular including the 3D print classroom. I think that what he’s finding is some of the similar things that we’re hearing and we’re finding as well.
Listen to the podcast here:
Evolution of the 3D Print Classroom
Thanks again for coming back Brian to talk about the evolution of the 3D print classroom.
Thanks for having me. I’m really glad to be here today.
We left you quite a while ago because you’re one of our very early podcast guests. It’s been some time. We’ve been trying to get you on but you’ve been doing lots of travelling and keeping really busy. Let’s catch up a little before we dive into the evolution of the 3D print classroom. What have you been doing?
Since the last time we spoke, we did have a really wonderful conversation about education and how we could see 3D printing being a part of that. Obviously, I’ve spent the past twelve months or longer actually looking at this issue, to find out what pain points were for everybody holistically in the system. I visited a lot of classrooms. I talked to a lot of administrators. I talked to anybody I could talk to that’s in education about how we could move more maker education and 3D printing into their classroom.
This has been an incredible learning experience for me. The more that I look at this, I realize that our education system is going to have to change dramatically. I don’t know how that’s going to happen because education becomes politicized in each community. To do a national program is almost impossible because every state is different.
I’ve been looking at digital ways to enter the classroom, and it’s a challenge. I’m currently working on a program that does take care of every stake holder. It takes care of the teacher. It takes care of the students. It takes care of the administration. It has a lease option. It’s leased machine so if it breaks, you can put it in a box and send it back. The machine also has boards in it that track what’s happened.
Basically what I’ve done is look at the whole problem and then I formulated a solution. Now, I work as part of a film and television studio. We are actually just getting started with filming our education. It actually won’t just be 3D printing but 3D printing’s a big part of it. We found that it really excites the kids to work with 3D printing. It’ll also be electronics. Another aspect of it is how we interact with computing, which is changing in an exponential rate as evidenced by some of the virtual reality and mixed reality technologies that are coming forward.
At the end of the day, to really look at it, what you’re looking at right now in our education system is our education system was brought forward through the industrial revolution. It was created much like a factory would be created. What I mean by that is you make the same part over and over. Human beings aren’t parts. Human beings have different talents and abilities. I start talks that I give on education with this statement that, “The curiosity of a child’s mind is the greatest asset that we have as humanity.”
I don’t disagree. We have young girls and we think the same thing. I just want to step back a little bit. What age group are you looking at starting in this education process?
The age group that we’re looking at would be anywhere from maybe fourth graders through seniors in high school.
Okay. Starting young and moving up through the system with a more gradual, professional type. As they get more and more interested, they get in deeper into the curriculum.
What I want to be able to do Tracy, Tom, is I want to be able to offer a digital solution so that any kid can have access to this. This may end up, at the end of the day, because of the dysfunction of our education system. That’s not anyone persons fault. It’s a systemic problem of trying to put an analog education model on top of a digital world.
We struggle at that. We’ve been thinking seriously, how do you teach design over the internet? It’s a really big problem and we’re actually struggling with the same thing. Not from an education standpoint like that, but from a teaching professionals. More college age, basically.
Yes, and I do think that’s possible. For me, when I look at this, I think that this digital aspect of the amount of information. You and I could create a piece immediate today, right now. We could create something. Within seconds, at the speed of light, we can share with anybody on the whole planet. That’s pretty powerful.
I think that having the material, to have them be digital opens up a whole new world of opportunity for this moving into other parts of the world. Recently, I’ve been speaking and doing some consulting work with a woman that is taking 3D printers into Tanzania and taking them into villages just to see what will happen when these kids get a hold to this. I find that fascinating, to be able to take a technology into places that aren’t tech savvy and then just say “Hey, here’s this tool,” and just see what they come up with.
Absolutely. I imagined that in the United States, the way the educational system is so fractured because of different state by state, presents a significant challenge that maybe certain other countries may not be facing. I’m thinking in particular of all the news coming out in the last year but how China is dumping so much money into 3D printing in their primary schools even and on up.
I do get the sense, I’m curious what you think Brian from your experience, is I get the sense in the US that while there is no common effort nationally, I do get the sense that educational institutions, school districts all across the country are taking 3D printing very seriously. They are working very hard to at least incorporate it into their curriculum.
There are some people. There’s pockets of it. There are some amazing teachers out there. I certainly don’t want to say that there are not because they are individuals whose heart is so in the right place to try to serve the kids. It’s reported to me by many teachers that I highly respect and know that their heart’s in the right place, they get caught up in a lot of government regulation and testing that ends up being tied to their income and ends up being tied to their review process.
Even though, at the end of the day, a lot of this education is really … I wouldn’t say a waste of time, but I think that our world is changing so quickly because of the proliferation of free information in the internet, that the school system like I described it is a very large boat moving through the water that needs to take a 360 degree turn. It’s got so much momentum that it’s going to take a while turning it around to start to see new methods of doing this.
Though this is happening. There’s a lot of exciting examples of this, I’ll be glad to go over with you. One particular that I’m very excited about. There are good people doing good work out there. They’re trying. Some teachers are very overwhelmed when they get this new technology because then they have to learn how to do it.
In most cases, I’ve even told teachers, just turn on the equipment and go have a sandwich or something. Just leave them alone. Because what I’ve noticed is the children have grown up in a digital world and they intuitively know how to do things. It has surprised me. I’m 56 years old. I was in card catalogs. I remember going and look in for the book. It’d take me half an hour to find where the book was in the library.
With my smart phone sitting on a train, I can research anything. There’s a fundamental difference. Integrating that in the school, think about if you were the guy that printed books. Pearson Education, which is the largest education company in the world. I’ve spoken with some people there, and they had told me that one of the things that they keep getting back is that the teachers are having what they refer to as technological overload.
I can relate to that. That’s such a good way to say that.
Yes. They felt like 3D printing was just one of the worst ones a lot of them could get a hold of. It just means that the wrong person at the school is trying to teach that particular task. There are people that love it. Again, in talking about the program I’ve structured for education, it solves these problems for the teachers. It’s been designed in such a way that it works for everybody in a way that’s functional and avoids this issue of technological overload.
Here’s the challenge were finding, Brian. I really kind of wanted to pick your brain about it anyways. We’ll just do it on the air. Why not?
We think that there’s just as big a problem training the trainers to know what to do with a 3D print classroom.
Whether it’s the 3D print designers who need training before they go out in the design world and then designed bad products or great products. That’s what we want to head of personally. That’s our personal mission on that. There’s also the issue of training the teachers on using a 3D print classroom. We saw this very first hand when we were in college. We were in college in … Do I have to admit that? 1988?
Sometime in the 1900s.
1988 to ’92. It was right at the time that Rhode Island School of Design, where we went to school, got their CAD systems donated to them or they purchased them. There was a grant. I don’t really remember how the computer lab came about. The computer lab was brand new the year we came in.
Not one piece of the curriculum yet integrated CAD into it for the first couple of years because the teachers didn’t even really have a chance to use the equipment and figure it out. That took almost our whole four years. We had some amazing people who came out and went to work for Pixar and other great places like that. We also were there at the same time that Seth MacFarlane was there and they started the animation department. He was one year behind us.
That whole thing happened at that time. The animation department came in brand new and they came in with professors who already knew the computer rated design system. Like they already knew it before. The curriculum was built with that mind. The rest of the curriculum, it took a long time for it to fold through and get in. Most of the problem was that it really was a matter of time and training and attention.
We see so often and we hear so many educators who are not being paid to get the right training and they don’t have enough time to get the right training and many of them are just struggling with where to get the right training. We have a professional level where it’s a 101 but for much more professional people and not students. We can’t be teaching them the same way that we teach kids. We can’t go, “Go ahead and use 123D.” That’s just not okay.
I understand. It’s a complex issue. It’s going to continue the change because of the iteration of software and also the way that we’re going to be visualizing things in the future, very near future as a matter of fact. I don’t know if you guys had look at the Magic Leap Mixed Reality, what’s called the light field photonic chip that’s being developed right now. This is really going to change the game.
I’m not familiar with that. Tell us about that.
If anybody’s interested in this, this’ll be something that they’ll have a good time looking at. Magic Leap is a company that were started by a gentleman named Rony Abovitz. He’s an amazing guy. I’ve actually gone online and looked at all of the lectures I could find that were videotaped of him. He’s very tuned in on a holistic level about many things. He’s an amazing human being. He’s brought around him a group of people that are amazing as well.
What has happened is because he developed a chip that looked very much like just a regular clear glasses chip, just like your glasses you wear now. If you were to look at it under the electronic scanning microscope or some way to look at it closely, you realize that what this able to do is it’s able to do actually fire photons into your eye that are identical to the photons that are coming in to our eye right now.
The really interesting part about this is they actually put people in an FMRI machine. I’m going to explain that for your listeners. An FMRI machine is a type of machine that you can actually scan someone’s brain using this equipment. It actually shows you where activity in the brain is going on. What happens is it’s an ultimate lie detector test because we’ve mapped different areas of the brain now to know when a part lights up, we can actually predict what the person’s feeling and thinking that time.
Not specifically, but generally we know that they’re auditory, it’s all about the sound they’re hearing or visually. This is something that’s being mapped out now, the map of the brain. What they’re able to do is if you look at a regular virtual reality, what you see is … I don’t know if you’ve seen people with these headsets on, like Google Cardboard, but you put your phone into a little headset and then you can have a virtual reality 3D experience. Have you guys done that yet?
Kind of. At a trade show. Not a lot, seriously. Oculus Rift is the most of it.
Right. One thing I would suggest you guys to do just for fun, because the Cardboard is are only $5 and you already have your smart phones. It’s only a $5 investment for you. You can go to one of the places I’ve found that has done some really interesting work, which is surprising to me, is the New York Times. Back in October of last year, the New York Times sent out Google Cardboard to all their Sunday newspaper subscribers.
They parked the site in an app online you could download where they have some movies. The Weinstein Company has made a movie that’s in there that’s just beautiful. There’s all kinds of different things now. They’re adding things all the time. These are 360 degree experiences when you put this Google Cardboard on.
I was looking at it because it’s so inexpensive for the schools as long as the kids had the phones. If you have a phone and $5, you can have a virtual experience like this. What we’re seeing with that is it used to cost thousands and thousands of dollars to even have the opportunity to experience virtual reality in this specific rooms because of computing power. Now that everybody’s got a super computer in their pocket, it can handle this. It’s quite fascinating to do this
Their app can be found as the New York Times virtual reality app, and you would download that. You don’t even have to have Google Cardboard. You can select to just look at it through the phone where you can look through the phone all around you, and in every direction for 360 degrees. You’ll be experiencing whatever world you’ve loaded in.
So cool. I look forward to trying that. At the SoCal Maker Con last year, that there was a company that was selling a professionally produced product that was essential like a goggles type of thing that you fit your smart phone into. It wasn’t for VR necessarily, but for a real personal experience. It replaces the Cardboard thing that Brian is talking about. There’s going to be more and more of this.
Actually, what’s happening is, in my opinion I would not want to be somebody developing Oculus Rift now because as I was saying before, Magic Leap is creating this biomimetic photonics chip. It’s called the light field chip. This will be just like wearing your regular glasses but I can put any high definition imagery in front of you that you want.
I was telling you about the FMRI. They’d put people in the machines but the FMRI with the photonics chips, and they looked at the brain. The brain actually just processed it like it does any light coming in to our eye. There was no difference. The brain lit up. Just like you’re looking at your computer screen now. Because of the photons that are coming off the chip are identical to the photons that are coming to our eye already.
Now, that this guy was able to invent this is beyond my scope of understanding. It’s pretty amazing. Anyway. When I put another type of VR, like let’s say I used the Cardboard in the phone. When I put that on and go into an FMRI, they see other parts of the brain light up that would be relative, that you’re not totally buying it. There’s a part of yourself that’s not buying it, which I thought it was pretty incredible that this guys actually went out …
I don’t know who they were. I read this article. I probably should have written down their names. That they had the foresight to do this. It was pretty amazing. I was hearing a story about one of the guys selling the technology. Also, Microsoft is very involved with this. They are making a headset called the HoloLens.
We’ve been up to visit them on that. At Microsoft, yeah. We didn’t get to try it personally but they showed us a lot of information on it. We thought we were going to cover it for the podcast, and we were super excited about it. We got up there and they were like, “No, we just wanted to talk with you about your thoughts.” We were like, “Okay.” We got our brains picked, and we didn’t get an interview out of it.
I had a similar experience.
Good, so we’re not the only ones.
I won’t get into it.
We can’t, because we gave away our lives in a secrecy agreement.
I wasn’t there personally. I was just communicating with some people working on the design process.
I found that actually really fascinating that they went out and reached out to people the way that they did. Personally, that’s the design process that I try to encourage people to do. Too many designers in the industrial design world that we work with work on design in a silo. They stay in their little world, they stay in front of their computer. They don’t consult the right people and they don’t get out into a factory.
To be honest with you, I’m a little fearful that in a 3D printed world, they just have more excuses to never get out because it’s right there at the end of their desk. Hopefully though, the experience of making though teaches them what they need to know by getting out there. We’re still encouraging the other way because I think you cannot learn properly without some amount of professional integration with peers and with mentors above you.
It just doesn’t work like that in the design world. You can’t progress enough on your own. You require outside input, and they obviously have recognized that and they have a system by which they could do that.
There’s so much development work that’s going to be relative to this technology. When you start to think about it for a while, you realize how many applications there are for it. In industry, in every way. If you look at education, my interest in it became that actually the way we interact with CAD, with these types of devices is going to be something totally different.
I hope so.
It sets up where what I can do is let’s say we’re building a building and we’re architects. I can actually have you and Tom virtually join me at a table that has the actual building on it as a model. All of us can make design decisions based on that and we can resize the building to be able to walk through it if we chose to make different design decisions. All three of us can be at different locations on the globe.
What that does is it creates an idea of creating different types of digital teams that I think is very important. It’s like people that get PhDs. A lot of the times, it’s like you could see them standing in the woods with their eye right up against a tree. They have no idea that they’re in Warren County, there’s a bear 200 feet behind them. But they could tell you everything about that little piece of bark that their eyes up against.
What I try to do is to open, to try to understand, to be of service better to the education industry with 3D printing, I feel like I have to understand where it lives and how other technologies are changing around it at the same time that could empower the convergence of AI, robotics and 3D printing, actually. If you were to put those three circle together and then study the convergence of those three is actually to me right now what I’m focused on trying to understand more fully and be able to communicate succinctly to others.
It’s a challenge, but we can’t forget about how other technologies are also evolving. It all works together in this. It’s hard to segment it, you can’t really segment it. We’ve tried to segment it in education. You go to a math class then you go to a history class and then you go here. My model for it is completely different than that as I see what could happen.
Now there’s actually data that new types of ways of looking at education that aren’t based on the industrial revolution model of education, where there’s a bell and you go here and there and everywhere else and everybody’s learning the same stuff. The people that are able to take information in and they give it back to you.
I want to stop you there Brian, for a minute because I really want to touch on something. We’re getting close to the end of our time limit here on this topic of the 3D print classroom. I want to make sure that we cover a couple of things. First, you’ve talked about this in terms of getting this educational push through and having this available online, but the reality is that it requires funding.
The 3D print industry has not been spending money in what we believe is the right places like a 3D print classroom. They’re spending tons on marketing and they’re doing all of these things but they’re not even marketing in places where … They’re marketing to the converted. It’s no wonder it’s not a good return on investment.
They’re manufacturing companies. They’re not education companies.
Some of them have invested in little small projects in education but it has to have a direct relationship to adding that curriculum to their online system. It’s definitely not investing in the education system as a whole or on a more social advancement state. Where are you going to try to build that up for yourself and for this movement?
I don’t want to really talk about specifics with people I’m talking about for funding just because I’m in the process of doing that. I’m approaching several different corporations currently and I’m looking at several different nonprofit groups that are interested in education. My platform is to help prepare our students for the jobs of the new millennium. I think that there needs to be such a powerful change in the way we do education. Every day, I’m working towards this in prayer.
Prayer helps? I’m sure.
The best part of it, I’m now working inside of a studio where I have a full film studio available to me with every piece of gear you could imagine. We’re going to go ahead and start doing our filming of these things. I don’t want to have just one teacher. My concept is to have many different perspectives and to have classes that actually involve things that are about making. In the process, the students discover things about all subjects.
I love that.
Also, one of the more important things to me is that, as we were talking about before, the system totally right now, it supports kids that can take information verbally and then they can spit it back to you. That doesn’t even necessarily mean they understand it, because there’s many different styles of thinking and every person has a different predisposition in the way they learn.
Some people learn visually, some people learn through writing. But all of them learn much better, which is scientifically proven, if they’re making something. If we get them in a position where they’re actually coding for boards, they’re making robotics, they’re doing 3D printing and then tying that into the humanities even and history and looking at maybe making little machines like they were made in the past that end up giving them information from history. I don’t think that we need to have the class broken up into 45 minutes of math, 45 minutes of history.
Have you thought about approaching the home school programs? Because they are very advanced. We probably get questions at least once a month or more from home schooling parents who are looking for, “What should my set up be? Where can I get some online classes because this is way over my head but my son or daughter is very interested in this and I want to add it to their curriculum?” Because they have a good organizational structure already, that’s probably a really great place to start for some things.
Agreed. Yes. I have been looking at that. The one thing that’s been difficult for me, Tracy and Tom, is that I’ve had the vet education. I’ve looked at a ton of 3D printing education. I would say that 95% of it could just be thrown out the window.
I agree. We see some really bad stuff.
I know that might be a strong statement for me to make, but education. If you’re a manufacturing company and you have a guy sitting in a board room, education falls under the, “This is a cost of the company,” area. They’re trying to maximize profits, so they’re going to say, “Well, can we dump education?”
I’m trying to get to a place where I can create a forum or maybe the companies to do what they do best, which is manufacturing, and that actually have a group set aside with what I’m trying to do, to offer a really good education. The thing is, they all want to sell machines. This becomes another issue. When I was in China, I actually was talking to our company about making a machine to my specifications. I’ve been talking to a company here because I had specific things that I need the machine to be able to do that make it easy for, again, looking at this system as a holistic system where it’s easy for everybody. The teachers, the students and all that. I figured that out, it took me a year.
That’s a great point. We actually just sat in an interview with Isaac Budmen, totally interesting conversation. The idea that a printer really needs to be developed to do the one thing that it’s supposed to do really well. If you’re developing it to be really easy for a classroom, really easily maintainable for a teacher, that’s a totally different type of printer than one that just came off of a RepRap system and you just modified it and you made it do what you wanted to do. Or the idea is that it’s being sold to someone to do whatever it is they might want to do is a totally different model than one designed to do exactly what it is you need. We agree completely that that’s the future of 3D printing equipment for a 3D print classroom.
Yes, you’re absolutely correct. I’ve spent so much time on this. You have no idea. It’s not like I have a company. I’m an independent guy. For me, I think the thing that touched my heart, I was filming a class and there was this young boy. He was real teeny. He may have been let’s say maybe seven years old. It was a group of probably kids anywhere from seven or eight years old to maybe sixteen years old. They were in that particular workshop, which was a three day training. There was I would say maybe 30 kids there.
I’m going around filming them and asking them questions about their experience so that I can learn what they think and what they want to do. I’m very interested in the kids’ feedback. I go up to this young kid, he’s working in CAD. I think it was 123D and this kid is rocking it. He’s building a rocket. I’m watching him work and I’m just amazed at what he’s doing and what he’s making. He looks at me like, “I’m not very good at this, but I’m trying to be better at this work, with this CAD work.” I’m sitting there thinking, this kid’s a genius.
Sounds like that kid needs a little more positive reinforcement. I don’t know.
The parents are so far from this technology. They don’t know how to support the kids. I sat there and said, “Kid, you’re incredible, you’re doing a great job. Just keep working and just keep working with this, you’re going to get better and better.” I really tried to champion him feeling a sense of self-esteem about what he was doing, which is in a lot of times in school, that’s hard. Schools meant to teach subjects but at the same time what you’re also doing is you’re creating a group of people for our society.
You’re teaching a compliance model.
What I’m trying to say is that sometimes kids need positive reinforcement in the learning process and because the powers that be and their parents know nothing about this digital world, it’s very hard for them to get the positive reinforcement they’re needing to continue.
From someone that they respect or from someone that wasn’t saying, “Wow, that’s amazing.” They want someone to say, “Wow, that’s amazing. Now, you’re able to accomplish that but here’s some other things that you might look at.” They really want a challenge and positive reinforcement. You need both at the same time, because challenge implies that I have respect for your ability to do more.
Yes. I totally agree. Yes. That’s it.
What do you, think about the reality of the desktop 3D printing industry? Today, just about every company you talk to is going after the education market. Because that’s the biggest obvious market sitting right in front of them, where they can sell more machines. Tracy thinks they just want to supply it, I don’t know that I completely agree with that. They do want to supply it, no question. Look at three of the biggest companies, MakerBot, XYZ and ROBO 3D. I know they’re each getting very involved in education, not only market but they’re each working on curriculums.
ROBO 3D developed a curriculum and MakerBot has also been developing curriculum and it has dedicated employees around this. You are furthering education in 3D printing. Yes, they all have their own agendas to sell their machines, but I don’t see that that has negatively impacted the curriculum persay because they hired other people to develop it that are outside. Like in the case of ROBO 3D, they hired an actual teacher to help develop the curriculum.
Have you talked to Cindy Schultz, Brian? She’s amazing. You should definitely talk to her.
I think, they were at a conference where I was. I have to look back at the information.
We did a podcast with her so you can go back and listen to it. She was really amazing. I think she’s right in line with where you are, with this more holistic teaching and the process of teaching that the machine becomes a tool for the whole process of teaching.
She gets it. I think you will like her. I actually thinks that, that’s the best program …
If you could put me in touch with her, I would appreciate it because I would love to have a conversation with her.
You should. Definitely. Absolutely. We will do that. That’s the thing about it. That’s probably the most progressive one to answer your question there. That’s probably the most progressive one I’ve seen. That’s really because of the way that she got hired, which she got hired through a maker space and she had zero 3D printing machine experience while she develop the curriculum, which I thought was the coolest interesting part about it.
We happen to know because we’ve interviewed her, and you can hear this on that past episode with her. She was first not interested in the slightest in bringing a 3D printer into her classroom and one when was offered to her. She is in complete integrity in terms of not even believing that anything in 3D printing was going to be helpful to her students. That is what middle school education or primary school, I forgot. I think its middle school.
Learning more about it, actually getting hired to develop a curriculum and had completely turned 180 degrees on it. Now she can’t imagine her classroom without 3D printing being integrated into it. Plus she teaches it in all subjects. She finds ways to use the 3D printer for a history lesson, for a math lesson, for a language arts lesson.
They work it because of the way they have block classes, most of us here have block classes here in California. That’s kind of the way it works. It’s the same system for her. Because of that, it’s enabled her to develop that curriculum with other teachers as well.
I think to really to get to your question, I think a lot of it misses the mark. When Brian was saying that 99% of it is junk, or 90% of it I think you said. There is a lot of stuff out there that is just really in the guise of curriculum and it’s really just how to use your 3D printer in disguise. We have to be really careful about that because that’s muddying the waters of what’s out there.
Also, just from my observation and that’s all it is, you can take that for what it’s worth. From my observation, I think there are some legitimate curriculums being created with the help of some of this 3D printer companies. Yes, they’re putting money behind it and doing it because they want to sell machines. That’s true. That doesn’t mean the curriculum is bad necessarily, but it does mean it’s fractured and everybody has a different one and there’s no consistency.
To Brian’s point, is that that’s designed to work within the existing education system which isn’t supportive of a 3D printed world, a 3D print classroom. I’m very unhappy with our education system in the US in general because I think it’s the path of least resistance. But I think it’s the dumbest thing, the dumbest idea to group kids together by their age, what year were they born, or between this month and that month in a calendar year, when it really should be grouped by other measurements.
Not just their age but how they absorb information and how much they’ve already learned. There could be kids of all different ages in the same class being taught the same thing, but we default separate kids by age. Among other things, and also the subjects are broken down. I think that’s maybe more some of what you were talking about. Right, Brian?
Exactly. The way that I see it in my study of looking at the education system, the change that is needed is so radical, in my opinion, that it’s going to be very difficult to interface. It’s like using a really old software program on a really powerful computer. It just doesn’t work. All this is based on the fact that the field or the foundation of our world digitally has changed tremendously.
If you look at it, what’s very interesting to think about, to me anyway, is that the way computers network information, actually that whole system becomes reflected in all of the systems above it. It’s almost like the foundation of our house, for lack of a better term, is now it’s completely changed, which changes everything about the house above it. Now we’re trying to figure out how to integrate that, how do we do that?
Of course. Teachers are going to be, people are people. They’re coming in, the want to teach the class. There may be rogue. They’re worried about paying their mortgage and they have to get home to pick up their child. They just want to get through the class. Not all of them are there. It’s a hard job to be a teacher. It takes a lot of patience and it’s a calling. They’ve have a lot of problems because it has become very political. We’re working on it.
We’re so glad you’re out there working on it. Please keep us posted on where things are going and come back again.
There’s only one thing more that I’d like to share with you.
Sure. Let’s do it.
There’s a film out. I was able to spend some time out with this gentleman. His name is Ted Dintersmith and the name of his film is called Most Likely To Succeed. What he’s done with the film is he’s travelling around the world, showing the film. What the film does that’s interesting, is it shows how kids can learn through making.
In a school California, he set up a program where the kids had basically a task of making that they spent all this time doing. The kids had to work in groups, they had to do their own research and then they end up having to make this really large sculpture or wall piece that all fits together.
Through that process, some of the parents came and said, “Hey, our kids don’t even have books. What are you teaching our kids? When are you going to teach them about Columbus and all that?” They’re trying to say, “This is just another way of learning.” They finally got it through. The teacher doesn’t really give them any information. They have to find their own information.
What was the real kicker for me about this film, that I would recommend every educator in America and human being see this film, because I think it’s that important. It speaks directly to the conversation we’ve had, is that at the end of the day, when you get through school, the government requires the test be taken in order to see the proficiency of what you’ve learned.
They took the kids from the public school that had just learned in the standard way that was being taught and then they took the kids that were in this special program of learning through making. All the kids that were in the special program learning through making made higher tests scores than the kids that took the government test through the public school system.
That doesn’t surprise me at all.
They were working a lot of thing that they had a reason to know it. A lot of the times, if you’re learning something and you have no base to start from, whereas when you’re making something and you’ve got to figure out a math formula to figure out something that’s part of a machine you’re making and there’s this gammafication where you might be working with another group, this is something that motivates them to do it where it’s really not school, it’s fun.
One of the gentlemen I’m working with right now, his name is Bill Macy and he runs a company called Rippl3D. I think he would be a great guest for your show. He’s been looking at this. I think you would really enjoy speaking with him. He’s created a whole software program that’s based on teaching kids about engineering.
He’s done an incredible job, I believe, on this. I’m actually helping him. I’m giving lectures at the local science museum. It’s part of their maker space. We’re working together to create some programs for kids.
That makes perfect sense. The reality is, that if you’re learning something in a context, your memory has more tags and more ways to retain and recall that information than if you’re told to sit down at a desk and read and remember it and that’s it.
There’s so much more to the experience that engages your brain and it makes it easier not only to learn it, but to recall it. I’m not surprised at all, just from what I’ve read and what I’ve experienced. I’m not surprised at all that those students that were involved in learning through making got better test scores. I completely believe that.
It is pretty amazing. It’ll be interesting to see where everything goes as we move forward. It’s a very interesting world we’re in right now with this. It’s quite an amazing time to be here with exponential technologies moving forward so quickly. How to serve our children for the jobs of the new millennium.
This may look different than it’s ever looked before because different kids have different things to bring to the table, different mind styles. Just because you’re good at testing and taking information, remembering it and spitting it back out doesn’t mean that you’re going to be the most valuable person on a team that’s iterating to solve a problem or an idea.
I think that one of the big pieces is that children learn to work in community together to solve problems. Because many people working on a problem together, meaning that you can iterate that problem much faster. You can move through it. We, quite frankly, have a lot of global issues that we’re going to have to solve.
I feel like it’s important that the children learn ways of working together to solve problems that basically we’ve created for them because there’s things we going to have to deal with as we move forward. I’m a total proponent probably of a radical shift in education from the work I’ve done. I’m trying to serve that the best I can.
Luckily, we have digital connections where, no matter what, I can get the information to the kids. I really do this for the kid. This isn’t for me personally. I told you the story about that little kid. That really touched my heart, for him to just feel like he wasn’t very good at something that he’s incredible at. Just to be able to give him the confidence to move forward, for me that day, was very fulfilling to me. I would like to do that for any kid that looks at any information I create.
I want it to enhance their life and have them feel good about what they’re doing and also learn the tools that are going to be valuable for them in the jobs of the new millennium, which are going to be very different as a result of the convergence of 3D printing, robotics and artificial intelligence.
We couldn’t agree more Brian. That’s why we’re so grateful to have you come back on the show and talk about those things with our listeners and with us. Thank you again for coming back.
Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Evolution of the 3D Print Classroom – Final Thoughts
I’m interested to have learned this stuff from Brian today because I had thought our education system was being really more proactive than maybe it really is in terms of a 3D print classroom and integrating 3D printing into the education. The idea of that, as he’s saying, that we’ve got sort of an analog education system being put on top of the digital world or a digital world is being forced into it. He’s of the opinion the education system really needs to change, and that is going to be an evolutionary thing. Not a revolutionary thing.
If we don’t get it started, if it doesn’t start to make inroads then it’s not even going to evolve properly. I keep thinking about something that happened recently, because our daughter at second grade, we got an email from the school. We got actually four e-mails from the school at least. Saying, “Hey, join Google Classroom. Here’s how you log in and here’s how you do it. Oh, join ClassDojo and …” I forget, there’s one other, Canvas or something I think it’s called. We already have one because you have a parent portal for their grades and everything. For the school district.
That’s four different logins. Four different logins for a second grader who doesn’t even have an email address yet. We’re having to log in for her, give her the videos that are on Google Classroom, check in and see how she’s behaving in ClassDojo and then go. I don’t even know what Canvas is for. I don’t think we’re using it yet. Also check on her grades in parent portal or any messages coming from the school.
The problem also is that we get emails that look exactly the same because they’re formatted for the district like a newsletter or a letterhead. They look exactly the same every time. There’s no difference in it. As far as I know, I’ve got like five of them in my inbox and I go, “I read that. I read that. It’s a repeat, like a reminder. I read that, I think.” That’s a problem as well.
It’s that they don’t really understand the digital divide and the digital overwhelm we’re already in at home. Now they’re trying to slap technology into the school. They’re doing like nonstop videos and stuff at her school. It’s like they’ve overwhelmed everyone with trying to transition into this, but I don’t think they’ve really thought through the essence of what they’re teaching is getting across and how useful it is.
I think the problem is really a similar one. It’s the reality of a free and open system. Every state has their own education department. I know that there are some federal standards and oversight over education in general, it’s the education department. But then every state makes its own rules, has its own way on doing it. There is no consistent system across everything. There are many, many different tools each district uses and there are these companies who make those tools available and they’re all competing for space.
I feel like all these different systems and companies and websites are throwing up all over the system and us parents. No one’s really thinking about the process and making it really effective and ease of use. Also, just the reality is that, I’m sorry, a second grader has no business being on the internet without parent supervision, in my opinion. Now we have more homework. I don’t need more homework. I don’t need any homework.
My goal of school with my children has always been, get them to be self-sufficient, to give them as much independence in a safe environment as possible. I know that’s not everybody’s, but that’s how we do it. To give them as much exposure to things that they might end up passionate about as possible. Of course, make sure that they can read and write and calculate. At the end of the day if we’ve done that, I feel that we have self-directed children. That’s the environment that we put them in.
They’re going to take that and run. That’s how it works. I don’t know that everybody treats it that way. There’s a lot of expectations. The school has to provide everything and be all things. I think at the end of the day, when we look at it that way and we don’t provide teachers the tools they need to figure out how to incorporate things and trainings that they need and give them the tools that they need to be successful here, but we have these high expectations of them integrating those things, that’s unrealistic. At the same time, we also have those, an unrealistic expectation on us as parents that the support system knows what to do with all that.
I think as parents we have no problems in supporting our kids, helping them with their homework in the evening if they need it, things like that. For a school to push certain technology on us and expect us to go out and pull information on a daily basis that we need to know to make sure our kids aren’t missing out on anything or that they’re doing everything they’re supposed to do, is unrealistic. They need to be actually pushing that information home with our kids or to us for our kids in an obvious way and that’s not happening.
I think Brian was right, that there are kids that if they’re just left alone with some of this technology and they understand it’s available to them, they’re given some basic introduction to it and some ideas are provided for how they might integrate it into their actual work for their classes or their education, they’re going to figure out more things to do with it and take advantage of more opportunities than any of us ever thought of. Because the technology comes a lot easier to them as they’re younger. I think he’s right about that.
I guess I just thought more communities were jumping in and adopting3D printing than they seem to be, as Brian was saying. There are pockets of it is what he was saying. It’s not consistent. That concerns me. There are a lot of great people developing certain curriculum for it, and we know about that and that’s great.
Part of the problem is that we’re sitting in this age of disillusionment on 3D printing. If there’s the sense that it might not be a viable future – we not believe that in any way shape or form. I know Brian doesn’t believe that either. But when you sit back and you have those naysayers and they say, “There’s budget constraints and that’s too much hassle to it,” that they can point to that and say, “Besides, no one believes that 3D printing is the future anymore.” It was just a flash in the pan. That’s actually troublesome as well because this is a long tail burning process. That’s why we’re here. That’s why we talk about it the way that we do here on the podcast. It’s long tail incorporation. This is not a revolution. It is an evolution.
I love the United States of America. I do think it’s the best country in the world. But I’ll tell you, other countries, and China’s the obvious one because they’re manufacturing the lion’s share of 3D printers in this world. In fact their government, you can obviously argue and debate all you want about their government system and that it’s not free enough and all that’s fine, but one thing that’s happening over there, 3D printers are being pushed into every elementary schools, secondary school and college. They’re all being told to adapt it and they’re adapting it in a more consistent way.
What I’m concerned about is ten, fifteen years from now, they’re going to be so much further ahead than America as a whole. There will be exceptions, there will be pockets of it, I’m sure. But just with the nature of our state by state system and the freedoms that we have in this country, the reality is you’ve got to have 50 different initiatives bringing this forward. Some are going to work better than others. Some aren’t going to work well at all probably. As a country, we may find ourselves behind the eight ball. That’s a concern.
We don’t plan to be one of those parents. I don’t care about it being in the school. I’m just not going to be one of those parents. That’s the choice that I’ve made. I hope that some of our listeners out there, that’s part of why they listen here. Because it’s the choice they’ve made as well and the future that they’re bringing to their families and their kids. Making sure that just because it’s not readily available doesn’t mean that we can’t find a way to provide that.
That’s where I give a lot of kudos to the maker spaces and to the schools that have adapted it and to the clubs that are going on around the country and making this happen. If we can do anything to help you guys push that out, you need to let us know what it is that we could do to support you in that mission of making sure that the next generation does not miss out on the 3D print evolution and getting a 3D print classroom. Let us know what we can do.
We’re here for you at 3Dstartpoint.com. We’re also here for you anywhere on social media @3Dstartpoint. Thanks for listening everybody. I hope you enjoyed that as much as we did, talking to Brian again on the 3D print classroom and many other important topics for educators.
- 3D Printing Revolution
- Magic Leap Virtual Reality
- Google Cardboard
- New York Times Virtual Reality App
- Back to 3D Printing School
- At Home 3D Print Support with Kiki Prottsman of Code.org
- 3D Teaching Start Point with Drew Lentz of MakerBot
- Studies in 3D Print Curriculum
- Is There an Online Community for 3D Print Teachers?
- Teach Teachers How to 3D Print
About Brian Federal
Brian Federal is heavily involved in the world of 3D printing. When studying 3D printing, he discovered that it is important to look around at other technologies like AI and Robotics to see how they will impact 3D Printing and influence the development of this amazing technology. We shifted very quickly from an analog to a digital world. These digital tools have become the path to the future for exponential success in business.
With 3D Printing technology, we can now design a product in one place as a CAD model and then send it anywhere in the world with an Internet connection. The 3D printer that receives this data can produce the product on site, possibly leading to a product on demand culture as the technology continues to grow.
As a result of the shift from analog to digital, the workforce that companies are hiring looks totally different than it did in the recent past. The education system is having a difficult time keeping up with the accelerated technological changes that are happening. The skills currently being taught in classrooms are not the skills that will be needed in the workplace of the 21st Century.
Brian Federal is a 3D Printing consultant and the Founder of Prana Communications, a full service media production and research company. A researcher and Documentarian, his primary focus has been the evolution of the 3D Printing in the business sector for his educational multimedia project “3D Printing Revolution.”
Mr. Federal is an international speaker on the subject of 3D Printing with a special focus on education. He is a featured speaker with the Inside 3D Printing conferences and has conducted presentations in Shanghai China, New York, and Santa Clara, CA. He has been featured in and contributes to numerous trade publications as well as segments on Huffington Post and NPR.
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