5 Reasons to integrate 3D printing in STEM Education for Kids
I am sure you have heard all the stories about the young boy who built a prosthetic arm for his own use through the use of a 3D printer. And if like most teachers or educators, this news piqued your interest in 3D printing, its benefits and how they can be applied in your classroom, then this article is for you.
Like the computer industry in the 90’s, the 3D printing industry is slowly but surely coming into its own. Today, the 3D printing community has what we call ‘desktop 3D printers’ which are basically entry-level options which can be purchased for less than a $1000.
This has made it possible for every home, school and learning center to get a 3D printer in the same way affordable laptops spear-headed the global adoption of Information technology. Now that we have the affordability part out of the way, here are the reasons why you need a 3D printer in your classroom.
A 3D printer can be used as a manufacturing tool in virtually every industry you can think about today. Therefore, it can be put to use to create just about anything your students are currently learning about.
Using the subject of biology as an example, students can be taught about the human system—reproductive or respiratory systems—in a more practical way.
This includes actually 3D printing the human reproductive system and its accompanying organs in order to provide students with a realistic view of how these organs work together for the good of the human body.
It also encourages students to try re-creating their ideas in 3 dimensions with the aid of a 3D printer. To bring this point home, here is the story of William Graeme who invented a sanitary device for storing used blood testing strips for diabetics. As a diabetic himself, Graeme applied his knowledge of 3D printing coupled with his imagination to invent this helpful device.
Enhancing Collaborative Effort
The collaborative effort or ability of people to work productively together in groups is usually first taught to kids during their formative years. There are many ways to teach collaboration but using a 3D printer actually gets your students to do more than just play together.
This is due to the fact that they will have to brainstorm ideas, work together on design and manage the pre and post-processing stages of 3D printing.
This gives you an ample opportunity to also pass on responsibilities to members of a 3D printing group. You can make a participant the head of design, put the other in charge of the 3D printing procedure while others work on finishing the 3D printed object.
Therefore, teaching your kids life-long lessons along the way. It is also important to state that 3D printing exercises are fun and will definitely captivate your audience.
Improves Proficiency in the Arts and crafts
It is no longer news that the study or participation in arts and craft related activities is currently on the decline in the western world.
According to the Vice-Chancellor of the University for the Creative Arts (UCA), enrolment into the arts and crafts have reduced as students now focus solely on the theoretical part of STEM while ignoring the parts that involve craft.
As stated earlier, 3D printing is a really captivating process which has been proven to keep kids spell-bound. Therefore integrating its use in developing action figures, pottery, robotic limbs and handling class assignments will definitely pique the imagination of school kids.
Once this knowledge is gained, students will naturally be interested in developing original pieces for their personal projects thereby creating another avenue to teach them about the benefits of using computer aided design software applications.
Elevating the Activities at STEM Events
The holidays are around the corner and it is a given that some students will end up enrolling in some extra-curricular STEM camps or events to learn more about their interests. These informal settings provide kids with a great opportunity to learn about new ideas of doing things.
If your camp activities involve robotics, manufacturing or art, then you are in luck. Educators can teach participants about the joys of 3D printing while creating the parts needed for a robotic arm or leg.
It allows the students get hands-on with the iterative process of manufacturing while using the 3D printer to execute the different activities lined up for the event.
As a Solution to Global Problems
Traditional manufacturing produces waste which is in many cases non-biodegradable which makes the issue of developing recyclable products and waste management some of the biggest problems the world currently faces.
The integration of 3D printing and the use of eco-friendly materials in additive manufacturing is a way to teach the kids about social responsibility.
This in turn creates an opportunity to introduce the 3D printer and biodegradable materials during studies that touch on our civic duties. There are currently a plethora of filament types, such as Standard PLA which are 100% recyclable and can be put to work in your classroom.
The 3D Printers Should You Consider Using
There are a plethora of 3D printers out there with different features which you can use which makes it important to know the ones that are kid-friendly for the safety of your students. So here you go:
The WanHao Duplicator D6 –comes in a box which keeps its internal structures out of the reach of your students. It is a great 3D printer for beginners and can be purchased here.
The Creality Ender 3—At the affordable cost of $130, this 3D printer is not only affordable but comes with the features needed to 3D print as well as teach your students about the benefits of additive manufacturing.
The CreatBot F160—is definitely another great option that is kid-proof and provides your students with a touchscreen for controlling its 3D printing features.
Slowly but surely, 3D printing is becoming the manufacturing device of the future. Therefore, getting your students to learn the basics of using 3D should be seen as an opportunity to prepare for the future of production.