One of the most provocative things I was told was to “sell your Smartboards, and buy 3D printers!” (Richard Byrne at the ECOO conference keynote address), and I’ve been exploring this idea ever since…big time! Reading, researching, attending the Toronto Maker-Faire, and visiting MakeLab in Toronto. I’ve discovered some incredible things about 3D printing:
1) The Royal Mail service in Britain is starting to use it to make themselves more relevant
2) The Smithsonian used 3D printing to make a bust of Obama
3) The National Museum in Britain lets you 3D print its artifacts
Tom Kale, from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy said of Obama’s 3D bust:
“This is part of a broader trend going on, and that is the third industrial revolution. It’s the combination of the physical world and the digital world allowing students and entrepreneurs to go from idea to prototype in the blink of an eye.”
I have begun to believe that this is true. While there is still a time and place for effective use of Smartboards in the classroom, I am beginning to shirt to a different solution – one of many in a classroom of the future. That solution would be to have a 3D printer available to teachers and students.
Not only is a 3D printer something that students can use to demonstrate their learning, it is something that students can use to learn about their learning, and deepen it. They can study it as a device itself, using math to determine cost and time of printing. Students can use it to bring their prototypes to life. However, recalling our work on TPAC with Cohort 21, it is important to apply a framework. I am tempted to just go with TC – let’s get students printing! Let’s get them excited about learning in this new way! This approach has its own merits for sure.
However, what I am looking at now is PK, pedagogical knowledge. How can we use a 3D printer to shift the way learning happens in the classroom? I think that once the learning is happening around the concept of CREATION, then students are put into a position of inquiry, evaluation and deeper learning.
– Geography: students will design a topographical map, critic them as a class, evaluate them, and hold a vote to see which one gets printed
– Math: Student can design an object using different shapes and print them out and use them as manipulatives
– Social Science: print a mask of a famous Canadian, and curate an exhibit around that person
I think that the possibilities of pedagogical shift are exciting. 3D printers have the potential to revolutionize the libraries and classrooms of today & tomorrow. Derek Quenville of TechKnight says:
[3D printing] is gaining popularity and it has the potential to revolutionize manufacturing and the way we access tools. It’s also seen as a necessary digital skill for kids today…
What is most exciting is that Stratasys has just launched an entire 3D printing curriculum. It is available for download HERE. I know that many schools have 3D printers now, and I’d love to hear more about how they are being used, and how they are integrated into the curriculum. If you know of anyone using a 3D printer in this way, please put me in touch!