What can 3D printing do for education? No doubt everyone has their own list, but here is mine and it’s a short one: engage student interest and add relevance to the classroom.
Engage Student Interest
One definition of a “good teacher” is one who can interest students in the subjects they teach. A good teacher does not toss the information out there and hope it sticks somewhere. A good teacher tries to inspire interest in all their students, not simply the few gifted ones. A good teacher is always looking for ways to pique that interest -- and 3D printing is one of the best options around right now.
3D printers allow teachers to take pictures out of books and put them in their student’s hands. Studying the ancient Egyptians? Print a perfect scale model of the Great Pyramid complete with inner corridors and rooms. Biology class? Why carve up some poor frog when you can 3D print a perfect replica of any organism without the mess and distractions of students freaking out?
3D printing also gives teachers a new way to approach difficult concepts. When text is not enough, there is the new approach called “Sculplexity,” which means sculptures of complexity. Researchers believe the 3D printer can be used to produce art works based on science that will transform the way ideas are presented and discussed. One example given is the actual printing of a physical object representing a modified forest fire model. Interest piqued? Google “Sculplexity.”
Add Relevance To The Classroom
Hey guys, this is the future! 3D printing is the new manufacturing revolution referred to by President Obama in his 2013 State of the Union Speech. It is going to change everything -- not just manufacturing, everything. Economics? Forget “economies of scale;” one widget can be manufactured at a time as cheaply as one in a million. Medicine? In the future it will no longer be necessary for the sick to wait for organ donors; scientists see a day when 3D printers will use living cells to print organs. Education? We’ve been talking about that! If you don't have a 3D printer in your school or classroom... Well, you should!