As the semester came to a close, students and educators working with us on SOLID Learning workshops and the use of 3D Printers in educational settings have reached the time for Final exams and term papers. Many objects we have printed over the past semester were included with last assignments of the Fall semester.
Objects like historical sites were used in presentations, allowing young learners the opportunity to describe the events of people and governmental groups of bygone eras that other students could understand with the assistance of visual aids that can be passed around or even re-created easily if lost or damaged during earlier sessions.
Other final assignments were made possible by 3D printed lab equipment like the DremelFuge centrifuge or laboratory lifts for optics exploration. Looking ahead to the Spring semester, I am excited to see several home-built 3D Printers coming together to expand this capacity within the local High School.
Students taking part in the Concepts of Engineering and Technology course have been studying alternative energy designs and the use of CAD software to prepare 3D objects like this puzzle that forms a cube when its individual components are assembled together.
My son is currently taking part in this class, and his own final project creating a design for a Desk Organizer fitting within a specified shipping dimensional volume was created using SolidWorks and TinkerCAD, where my University students use SolidWorks, Blender and AutoCAD in their own classes.
Although each student’s creativity takes them along different design options, it was marvelous to see them creating their designs in solid form to test whether the pieces could be passed through the test dimensions patterned using simple cardboard cut-outs and then assembled as expected for use testing. Beyond simply learning to leverage new technologies students will increasingly find in professional design shops, this final level of testing allowed our students to change details in their design specifications producing a final project deliverable with greater rigor than their classmates in other sections of the course not currently taking part in the SOLID Learning research.
I am hoping that the self-built 3DR 3D Printers this next year will encourage other instructors to bring this capability to their own classrooms, expanding the capacity around the open source RepRap self-replication concept.