Why Do We Need a 3D Printer in the Elementary School?

So today I shared the 3D printer with several of our teachers who were interested. One of the questions that was posed was – Why do we need a 3D printer in the elementary school? At first I didn’t know how to answer this as I am still learning about how to print and consuming the designs of others. My initial reaction was “Why not?”. But this question has stayed with me for several hours as I ponder the “why”.

Why do we as teachers question why we should use new technology like 3D printers, video games like Minecraft, and other technology that engages and inspires our students… yet we willingly accept standardized testing, bi-monthly assessments, common core standards, and the like. When did learning become assessment and creation became a novelty? I am not willing to defend the why of 3D printing because in my creator, life-long learning heart, I know that creation is central to learning. It may start with consuming but it will only take a while before creation will happen.

I want to be engaged and excited about learning and I believe that my students want to also. Learning is about playing, creating, making mistakes, working together to find a better solution, and trying again. So my response is “Why would you not have a 3D printer in your school?”.

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