As we transition to distance learning around the world, teachers are struggling with how to teach innovatively every day in their classroom and in their school district. With the COVID-19 pandemic going on, this is becoming an even more important issue to tackle because of the technology challenges to consider. On today’s show, Cindi Schulze, the 2016 Teacher of the Year in the Santee school district in San Diego, joins Tom Hazzard and Tracy Hazzard to talk about creating a 3D print curriculum for teachers to use. If you are an educator, a student, a parent, or anyone involved with education and considering 3D printing education integration in the school system, check out these insights into 3D curriculum development and solutions.
Watch the episode here
Listen to the podcast here
Studies in 3D Education Curriculum with Middle School Teacher Cindi Schulze – Updated 2020
We’re continually talking about 3D education here. We are talking 3D Education Curriculum. We wanted to bring this in because we’ve set the standards for it, talking about bringing more STEAM in. We talked about what’s going on in higher education. We talked about how that leads to other things. We want to talk a little bit about that curriculum development and in a post COVID world, that’s difficult. It is almost like going back to square one.
This episode that we’re sharing with you is a great episode talking about the creation of a 3D print curriculum for teachers to use. It’s a very important episode and worthy your time, but we want to talk with you about this because there are a whole lot of new things to consider.
We’ve also hit the reset button on education in the world, certainly in the United States, with distance learning. I sure hope in the 2020 to 2021 school year, everybody can stay in their schools the whole year. There is some concern that there may be other times in the future where people may have to be taught from home again.
This episode is an interview we did with a middle school teacher, Cindi Schulze. She’s a Teacher of the Year in San Diego. She was talking about the whole process of how she was forced into putting 3D printing into her classroom and then how she began to love it and also the challenges of doing it. I think it’s a good view of how it is when you’ve got this on your plate.
One good detail about this episode is I remember that she wanted nothing to do with it when she was forced to do it. As a parent of kids that have been home distance learning, I want nothing to do with being a teacher and teaching them.
We know a whole lot about 3D printing and we want nothing to do with creating 3D Education Curriculum for our own kids. We want to be able to rely on our teachers, but we run into even other challenges that Cindi references and she’s talking about in some of the episodes like the challenges of when your printers break down and you only have one printer. Do you have a tech staff? Are you doing that? Do we need to use more service bureaus? She talks about some collaboration that she was doing and how she learned and working with makerspaces and working with companies to develop the curriculum together. Thinking about how teachers can stay in this idea of creating a great 3D Education Curriculum, but not have to handle the tech. This is where industry and education can cooperate together to make this a robust system for our children and as we go up into higher education as well, to make it simpler and easier for everyone to learn, to create and to build at the same time and do all of those things. Thinking about some of the challenges and what she’s referencing, this is going to open your eyes to thinking about how can we rethink how it’s going to happen now.
This is a necessity. This has been forced on all of us. There’s a lot to be learned here, but I do still think this is jumping-off point. I see a future episode after the series with HP, whatever new series we do after that, we’re going to have to hone in on and focus on somebody that has done this in a distance learning application. It is a great foundation.
Also, thinking about how makerspaces and print service bureaus and those kinds of things can be a part of the solution. Some of you may be suffering from not having anyone in your makerspace, not being able to charge those recurring fees and all of those things because you can’t open up your facility yet. Hopefully, you have opened up, but you may not. You may be challenged with, “How am I going to do this in a co-working style space? How am I going to get people back?” which is getting harder and harder to do. Maybe working with and closer with your teachers and working on that 3D Education Curriculum like this is going to help everyone benefit, especially our students, which is what we want to happen at the end of the day. We want to make our teacher’s life easier so that the students learn more. We want both things to happen at the same time. Cindi talks a lot about how that happens, how that is created within the environment. I’m glad we are going to be able to learn from Cindi Schulze again.
Studies in 3D Education Curriculum – originally aired March 10, 2016
Cindi, thanks so much for joining us.
It’s my pleasure.
We want to talk to you because as a Teacher of the Year, we know that you’re struggling with how to teach innovatively every day in your classroom and in your school district. Tell us a little bit about the challenges related to 3D printing and integrating that in.
The biggest challenge for me as a teacher is trying to find out the best way to teach it to the students but also making sure that they’re learning along the way. It’s easy to take something as cool as a 3D printer and see it as a toy, an object in the classroom, something fun to play with and kids are making toys to play with, and getting people to understand the value of 3D printing and what it can bring to education. Not only are students learning about 3D designing, taking a simple object that they may draw a picture on a paper two-dimensionally and being able to take that and create it in a three-dimensional space is challenging. For the students to be able to see that printed and hold it in their hands and manipulate it gives them a lot of power, but it also engages them in their learning. When you take any type of topic or subject matter and you incorporate the 3D printing into it, it allows the educational learning component to become more powerful.
We’ve been hearing from a lot of educators who are in a way struggling with which classroom the 3D printer belongs in. Where is it in your school district?
I teach Math and Science for our 7th and 8th-grade program. Science is the easiest one to give it to because Science can lend itself to larger projects to creating 3D models. I also was talking to my History teacher about some of the projects that we’ve done in the past. We do a China artifact project where the kids learn about China. They learn about medieval time and they create an artifact box where they show relics of the time period. They then have to describe what those relics mean and the 3D printer could easily fit into the history classroom as well. I honestly think that a 3D printer belongs in everyone’s classroom, even language arts. Think about trying to inspire students to write and how cool it would be if they could create something out of their own minds, their creativity, their imagination, and to be able to turn around and write about it. I think it belongs in everyone’s classroom.A 3D printer belongs in the #classroomofthefuture. @hp @zbyhp Click To Tweet
Create a visualization of the character they’re writing about. We’re hearing some education groups that are starting to put them in a more lab situation. Way back when we were young, we all had to take typing classes, to begin with, but then you were expected to use a typewriter or the computer. We did take typing in 7th and 8th-grade. You were expected to use it in all of your classrooms from that point forward and type all your reports. The computer was the same way when it came into the classroom as well. Do you think the 3D printer belongs there or do you like having it much closer to you in your lessons?
I think it’s better. As a teacher, when I first started years ago, one of the things that I found was we had these computer labs and as a teacher telling my students, “I know you’re finished and you’re ready to start typing, but we have to wait because our designated day to go to the computer lab, isn’t for two more days. You’re going to have to wait and do something else,” is a disservice to our students. Our students are growing up in a technology world where it’s at their fingertips and we have to be able to teach them how to use that technology effectively be able to determine, “I’m ready to start typing. I’m going to use a computer. I’ve done my 3D design work, so I’m ready to start printing.” I think it needs to be at their fingertips. It needs to be right there in the classroom with the students so that they can see and feel it, and they understand how it works. If there’s a technology problem, how to handle it, how to problem-solve. If they see it printing and it’s printing incorrectly, they can fix it. To me, I have a hard time isolating subjects, isolating equipment technology. It should all be available at all times to all of our students.
That’s a great point and an interesting one. At the same time, I also think there’s a challenge for you as well because you have a limited class timeframe. Aren’t you doing block classes in 7th and 8th-grade at that point?
We are. For four years, we used to be self-contained in 7th and 8th-grade. I used to teach all subject areas as a middle school teacher. That was challenging in and of itself. Now we do block, but there are times where we’ll do a Special Science Day or for a Special History Day where we focus on one of our projects. We have a Cell Museum Project where we’ll spend the whole day showcasing our science project to the campus, the public and the community.
Isn’t it challenging to get something printed within that timeframe of your class and what happens when you have printer problems? Is it distracting? That’s the case that a lot of educators make for having it in a lab versus the classroom. I appreciate your ideology about how to teach it, which I agree with. Do you find that challenging technically still?
There are challenges when you deal with technology in general. We’re one-to-one iPads right now. One of the apps that we use daily is not working, but I also feel like students need to learn how to problem-solve and how to get around the problem. If for some reason, 3D printer is down for two weeks and we’re in the middle of a project, what can we do instead? Let’s get the cardboard out. Let’s start building and constructing something. There’s value in that as well. Kids need to know that technology isn’t perfect, that the Wi-Fi may be down for the day. If you were planning on researching and the Wi-Fi is down and you can’t use it to be able to search and surf the web, then what can we do instead?
Let’s work on another aspect of our project. I feel like there are some valuable learning lessons that go along with it. Yes, there are challenges. The time it takes to print something is a challenge. It may take one student’s project 30 minutes, which is almost the whole time period of one of my classes, but they know that they have to give me their designs well in advance so that I can get them printed and then I print all day long. The kids walk in the door, it’s printing. They leave, it’s printing. When I leave at the end of the day, I’m printing one last project. I would love to have more in my classroom for sure.
Cindi, we have had several teachers reach out to us, especially from the Midwest that are getting into it. They got a grant, some money, and they’ve been told, “You need to start teaching 3D printing and figure out how to do it.” Can you give us an example of a good project that you do with your students that not only teaches them 3D printing but also gets at some of the other disciplines within what you’re teaching of Math and Science?
We’re working on cell biology. The students have been researching individual cell parts and what their structure and function are. We’re working on building a life-size interactive cell. Each of my classes will create one plant cell, bacteria cell, and animal cell. As a team, they have to design all of the parts of that cell. Along with the part that they either 3D print, build or construct them, they also have to create a QR code that goes to an analogy, explaining their cell part and its function to younger kids, as well as a video that describes the importance of their cell part to the overall cell.
Some of the kids, about 4 or 5 of them per group, will be 3D printing their part while other kids, the cell wall isn’t something you’re going to 3D print because it’s extremely large. It’s ceiling to the floor. To me, the powerful piece of 3D printing is it can’t be the end-all-be-all. Your whole project can’t revolve around the 3D printer, but what I have found to be the easiest way to integrate it is to find a project you’re already doing and ask yourself, “What could I do with the 3D printer that the kids have done before using cardboard or styrofoam balls to create different objects?” Now, we can use a 3D printer to replicate something maybe even to a more precise structure.
That makes a lot of sense what you’re saying. You’re saying if a school is approaching this as maybe in the past what would have been a more traditional industrial arts class that was separated from the rest of the subjects that they’re learning, that may be the wrong approach because you make the whole class about 3D printing. If you integrate it into your regular course curriculum, you get the benefits of it, but it’s not ruled by it.
That’s the same thing with technology. What we have seen in the technology world and the shift for the last years is that having this separate computer lab doesn’t benefit us. It needs to be integrated into everything we do. A student may pull a textbook off the shelf to find a definition of a word or they may say, “I need to find out a little bit more. I’m going to now go to the web and look up even deeper what that word means that the book couldn’t cover.” It’s important for kids to understand how to determine what the best tool for the project is. The 3D printer may answer one student’s challenge, but it may not answer someone else’s. To segregate out the abilities, the technology and the tools that we have for the kids is a huge disservice.
That’s an interesting point, how to determine what best tool or tech you need for any given challenge you might have or what you’re most interested in learning as well. It helps someone expand their learning in a particular area, especially if they have much more interest in design, for instance.
We have artists who make the most beautiful pieces, but then I have students who are like, “I can’t do art at all. I can’t even draw a stick figure.” Those kids may want to do 3D design work because it makes sense to them. They’re able to express themselves creatively without having to draw with paper, pencil, crayon, colored pencil or whatever they want to use. Students are diverse and we know this and we’ve known this forever, but we have to be able to allow them to have the tools in order to express themselves the best way they know how.
What do you wish you had in your classroom now?
I would love to have another 3D printer.
If you win Teacher of the Year in the bigger scope of San Diego County, do you get anything for that?
I don’t know because this is my first time.
You’ll have to say that’s what you want. Tell me a little bit about how you got trained to learn 3D printing. Did you happen to already know how to do it or when they said, “You can have a 3D printer,” how did that happen to you and your school?
This is an interesting story. My principal came up to me and asked me, “Do you want a 3D printer for your classroom?” I said, “No, I don’t want a toy in my classroom. I don’t need another piece of equipment that’s going to sit and collect dust.” That’s one of the big disservices that our administration and our district people are doing is that they’re dumping these in the teacher’s laps and saying, “Here, have fun. Use them.” We don’t know where to start. We don’t know how it fits. We don’t know how it functions. I went the whole year thinking, “There’s no reason for it in my classroom and until you tell me the benefits of it, I am not going to use it.” It’s an expensive piece of equipment. I don’t want someone to spend that money on me unless we know that it’s something that’s going to benefit the kids.
The interesting situation is there’s a gentleman in town who does a lot with STEAM Maker, fast and STEAM Maker Workshop. He does a lot with STEAM in the schools. I’ve worked with him a little bit over the years. I didn’t have any big projects. I didn’t have any workshops or conferences that I was attending. I was free and it was my first summer off, which was nice. He came to me and he said, “What do you think about writing some curriculum for 3D printing?” I could totally say no and walk away from it but I thought, “This is cutting edge. This is something that is revolutionizing. What if I took the summer and I investigate how this could be incorporated into the classroom?” The thing that I want to stress is I was paid for that time. That doesn’t happen often to teachers. Teachers are pretty much expected to do all the investigating and training all on our own without any extra compensation for our time.
We’re expected to do it. This piece I felt valued because they said, “We’re going to pay you for the summer to work on this,” and I did. I dove in and I said, “How can I make 3D printing work in the classroom for kindergarten through 8th-grade?” I created a curriculum for kindergartners for 1st-graders all the way up to 8th-graders. A lot of the curriculum in 7th and 8th-grade can be incorporated into high school. The cutting edge and the tip of the iceberg, as teachers, we can easily share more projects as we go along. For me, being able to get it started and look into the next generation science standards and find all of these amazing ways to incorporate 3D printing was invaluable to me, but I wouldn’t expect all teachers to be able to have that time or energy to be able to do that on their own. I think it’s unfair to ask them to do so.
This is one of the topics we talk about all the time is that it’s the same problem for design, that none of them are taking the initiative to pay to have good designs to put in to show people what it’s capable of. People have this perception in mind that it is a toy and it makes tchotchkes. If they took the time to spend on a designer to make good, interesting designs that push the envelope of what 3D printing can do without becoming art pieces so that it still has that STEAM functional focus, then that would do the same thing. Both the education and design components are what’s been holding back the 3D printing from tipping. That’s very forward-thinking.
You went from rejecting the idea of a 3D printer all together to then being asked if you would help create curriculum, “I’ve got a free summer. I’m going to get paid. Why the heck not?” to then being completely converted to the point where you’re using it in your classes every day. Is that correct?
Along in the process, you had to educate yourself on 3D printing.
That was interesting because I wrote the curriculum over the summer without ever touching a 3D printer. We had one at the STEAM Maker Workshop and there was a gentleman that was working with us who was doing all the printing. He was printing and designing the curriculum that I was writing. I would write a project and he would create the project and print it so that we had examples and things. It was a way to flush out the curriculum. Did this work? Did this not work? How can we tweak it? We did a lot of trials and errors. He was supposed to train me on how to use the 3D printer at some point, but we had some technical difficulties. There was a backup on one of the printers because one of the interns did something wrong. Long story short, the printer was dead for a while. I had to go back to school. I went to school with a printer on my desk and I’m printing something and I had no clue how to use it. It was quite interesting because a couple of weeks later when I got my official printer for my classroom, I called up Victor, who’s the Owner of the STEAM Maker Workshop and he came out and spent 30 minutes with me. He gave me the rundown, a quick tutorial, then I was off and running.
That’s the thing that I keep saying to people, the harder part is figuring out what to make and how to design it and how to use all of that process. Running the printer, it’s just a printer. It’s a piece of equipment.
You plug it in and you hit print.
It’s the anti-climactic part that getting that off the print. That’s the great part. Where do you want to go next with it, Cindi?
I’ve been grappling with this. My struggle, and I see it, recognize it and I want to overcome it, is I know that 3D printing can do so much more than what I’m doing in the classroom. What I’m doing in my classroom is the tip of the iceberg. I know that my kids are going to take it and they’re going to fly with it. They’re going to surpass what I could even imagine you can do with a 3D printer because my brain isn’t holding on to that capability.
This is where we got super excited about the power of 3D printing. We have a similar story to you is like I said, “No printer. We don’t need it. What are we going to do with it?” Eventually, I caved. When I caved, all of a sudden, the light bulb goes on, “This is amazing. Look at what we can do.” What I’m excited about is within years, we’re going to see this generation with minds that are capable of thinking in three-dimensions in a way that we cannot because it’s hard. We work in three-dimensions all the time. We’re product designers and it’s what we do, but that has come from many years of practice. You don’t have that skill. It doesn’t work like that. You have to practice it every day and learn about it. The way that their minds are going to work is going to open up the possibilities to things, inventions, and possibilities of how things are made that we never imagined before. That excites me.
As a teacher, my goal is not to teach my kids what I know. My goal is to teach them how to surpass what I know and how to take the little introduction that I can give them into 3D printing and to take it to a whole other level that I can’t even fathom. That’s the new way of teaching that we have to wrap our brains around. I’m not the expert anymore. My job is to get you if you’re interested in this avenue, if you’re interested in Sciences, how can I get you motivated to blow me out of the water?
I think about that all the time when we are getting our kids started in 3D printing. I keep thinking about, “What is she going to do? I can’t wait to see how it’s going to turn out.” The idea that she’s going to surpass me is exciting.
I think teachers are afraid of that. They’re afraid of not being the expert anymore. They’re afraid of not having all the answers. They’re afraid of not, per se “being smarter” than the kids. I feel like that’s such a disservice to the kids because they should be able to go so much farther than we could even think we could go. That’s the power in teaching that we have and we have to let it go. We have to let our kids go.
I haven’t thought about it quite this way until you said it, but you’re saying a 3D printer is a modern chalkboard. It’s another tool. That tool has evolved from the chalkboard to many other things. There are different pieces of technology all in the way and when it comes to education, 3D printing is one more tool in your toolbox.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Cindi. We appreciate it. We hope that it inspires other teachers, other education districts, and other things to get out there and start 3D printing because there are resources to help you. It’s super exciting to see what it’s going to do for the future.
It’s been fun.
Studies in 3D Print Curriculum — Final Thoughts
I’m excited to have someone as excited as I am about 3D printing and the future and the possibilities of it. I’m refreshed by the perspective on teaching as well as the perspective on technology. I think we get too excited about, “We’ve got these new 3D printers in our school. Isn’t this great?” It’s what you do with them that is important. If you put the tech in its place and you concentrate on how to do something with technology, you’re going to get the kids’ minds energized in the right way.
My mind was stuck in the preconception of the old industrial arts classes like we had in school or a Home Ec class where you might learn to sew. Often, we’ve talked about the 3D printer being equivalent to a sewing machine in some ways. I’m sure there are schools that are doing that and there may be nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing wrong with concentrating on new technology and teaching kids intensively and work with it. Doesn’t it make so much sense to make it be like a computer or an iPad. It’s integrated into your curriculum in your class. It’s one of the things that students can use. They’re not forced to use it.
In any Science class when we were in 7th and 8th-grade, we had to learn how to properly use a microscope. You’re going to have an orientation part of your program that’s going to teach you about how to use the equipment and how it works and everything, but there’s going to be the light bulb going on in kids when they see their buddy trying this out and their girlfriend doing that. That’s going to happen and it’s going to ignite each other to do something great too. I love the idea of that. Whether it’s group projects or individual projects, you’re still going to get that cross-pollination of ideas and thinking.
It made me think that some of these project packs and kits that we’re seeing starting to come out. We’ve talked about a great potential project. We’ve talked about the digital sundial thing. Having projects like that are a good thing to do. I envisioned those being used maybe a lot more in school curriculum situations, but maybe they won’t be used there in some school districts as much. Maybe that’s what students or parents are going to go out and find to use to help further the education and go beyond just using 3D printing in the classroom for that assignment. I’m sure it will happen in all different ways.
As a parent, I feel extremely responsible though for providing my child tools. That’s my job as a parent. My job isn’t to make her learn. It’s to inspire her to love to learn so that she’ll go out there and do it herself. This is what we had trouble in. Our eldest, Alex, I couldn’t understand why she didn’t love reading because I completely love reading. I tried every method possible to get her to love it. That’s what you do as a parent, you go out there and you find tools that are going to ignite their excitement and interest. In the case of books, I tried to find genres that I thought she would like and it took the vampires and her being. She had to be old enough for vampire love stories for her to ignite a reading bug, but I tried everything earlier and it didn’t work. That’s what we do as parents is go out there and seek tools and ways to do this. Teachers have to do the same thing. That’s what I found so interesting. You provide opportunities so that the ones who want to go further can.
Once those that do start doing it, the other students would say, “That’s cool.”3D printers in #distancelearning curriculums deepens learning outcomes. This method requires integration and a strong champion. @hp @zbyhp Click To Tweet
I’m super excited about how these are going. I hope that we’re going to get into Cindi’s classroom at some point. I would love to see some of the things that the students are making and hear how much at the end of the year that they enjoyed having 3D printing in their classrooms. That should be interesting. We’ll do a follow-up.
We’re going to have that opportunity and certainly when we do, we’ll make sure we document that and do a blogpost about it.
I wrote about this idea that you need to start paying your teachers to learn over the summer. That’s a real key there. If you want this to be done right in your district and right in your classrooms, you should be paying them to learn. That is a critical factor. I have written a blogpost about that.
It’s great that she got paid for it. Clearly, that made the difference in this happening in this case.
Look at the power of what she’s able to do with that. That’s not too much. You’re going to buy an expensive piece of equipment. You would need to provide training and payment to learn that. That’s a no-brainer and the scope of the program that you’re going to put in place in your school. You need it to not sit there and become a big old paperweight.
If any of you reading this are educators out there who have had a similar or even a different experience in how you got started in 3D printing and how it was integrated into your school system, please reach out to us. You can reach us on 3DStartPoint.com. There’s a place where you can submit a question or email us at Info@3DStartPoint.com.
We’d love to share your stories. Thank you again for reading.
Get Even More!
- PRIDE Academy where Cindi teaches
- ThingMaker by Mattel
- Educational Digital Sundial Project
- Teach Teachers How to 3D Print
- Cindi Schulze – Twitter
- Curriculum – Robo 3D
- HP 3D Printing in Higher Education
- How HP Multi Jet Fusion is Being Adopted and Incorporated into an Academic Environment
- Szent Istvan University Brings 3D Printing to the Next Generation of Engineers
- With HP MJF, Clemson University students turn imagination into innovation
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