Gone are the days when students could only print on traditional two-dimensional paper. The world of 3D printing is opening up new doors in the classroom setting. With the invention of this technology, teachers can bring lessons to life in a new way that was previously inaccessible. Most classes could benefit from the addition of a 3D printer, but STEM classes can uniquely utilize this new opportunity. The ability to design and physically create small models can be invaluable in these STEM-based courses.
How can educators make the most of the 3D printer in their classroom? Here are just a few ways that this technology can create a more realistic and hands-on lesson to further a child’s grasp of essential concepts.
Learn more about simple machines.
Students need to learn more about simple machines to have a great foundation for engineering in the future. You can present children with the basic elements of a simple machine using a class lesson or a textbook. However, the printer is going to really bring those concepts to life. Using the computer program, allow children to assemble those elements to form their own simple machine. This gives them a tangible understanding of how the parts work together to perform a specific purpose.
Find the solution to a problem.
Every child needs the freedom to create and bring new ideas to life. Educators can help facilitate this process by assigning children a problem that requires a solution. For example, they may need to come up with a new model for a dam or a prototype for a specific type of machine. The dilemma they are faced with can easily relate back to another subject that you are studying.
Give them a little bit of time and space to consider what the solution to their problem should be. Students can use the computer software to design their own model and subsequently print it as a prototype. They may even print new prototypes several times in a process known as rapid prototyping. This allows everyone to accurately demonstrate their ideas and share them with the class.
Design different types of transportation.
Most kids are extremely interested in how people move from one place to another. They dream of the day when they can own their very first flying car, but they stare longingly at sports vehicles until then. 3D printing can help put those daydreams to good use by encouraging students to develop new and different types of transportation. Make it into a group project to harness the power that one expert refers to as the 4 Cs: creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication.
STEM subjects should be captivating our students and piquing their interest with new advancements. It only makes sense that we should include new technology into the mix to keep teaching students even more. 3D printers allow children to bring their solutions to life more effectively. Try out a few of these simple ideas in your classroom to determine what might be right for your STEM students.
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