iMake iLearn – The Journey of the 3D Printer

iMake iLearn

My journey into 3D printing started four months ago in December when after successfully writing a Donor’s Choose grant our MakerBot Replicator 2 arrived at the cost of $100.  Before its arrival, I had never even seen something print in 3D and was more than a little skeptical about how 3D printing really had a place in an elementary school setting.  But for $100 I set my skepticism aside and decide to dive into the world of 3D printing.  I did not realize that it would take me on a journey that I would have never anticipated.

December 2013
Our MakerBot arrived and I soon learned about Makerware and Thingiverse.  Let’s not pretend that I had any idea how to do anything but it’s amazing what youtube, tinkering, talking with other amazing colleagues, and research can yield.  I sat glued to my seat as the first print became reality.  Check out an earlier blog post The Beginning and Discovery for details about that.

It wasn’t long before the first question and my next blog post “Why do we need a 3D printer in the elementary school?” was asked and answered.  Which as you will detect in the blog post, I didn’t have any “research-based answer” for.

January 2014
What the 3D printer did provide was a reason to rethink how I was integrating new technologies for our students.  The combination of the 3D printer and the book Invent to Learn created an idea that I would have never anticipated – our SP Design Lab.  I realized how important it is that students have a place to create, design, play, and teach.  Our Design Lab did not start with the 3D printer because let’s be real, I still did not know what I was doing.  Sure I was printing things, changing the filament, and pretending that I actually knew something…. but it was not until I started to reach out to others in our community that I really started to learn and see the possibilities.

In January I was juggling too many things between teaching, SP Design Lab, after-school workshops, Minecraft,… you name it I thought I should try it.  It was the community around me that helped me to connect with a 3D printer down the street from our school – Radiant Fabrication.  Learning is fun that way because the more you learn, the more you talk, the more you share, the more you find others who are excited about the same things.  Radiant Fabrication provided a solution to my dilemma of how to provide a platform for students to create their own 3D designs through their software Li.  Learn more by reading this short blog post.

February 2014
Our school hit the local press with an article about 3D printing in schools.  Our kindergartners were learning about 2D and 3D shapes.  I was invited in to share with them about the 3D printer and how 3D shapes are composed of 2D shapes.  Together we printed a design for their classroom and then assembled tetrahedrons and cubes printed by our MakerBot for each of them to take home.

Our after-school program iDesign – 3D Printing and Design started with the support of Radiant Fabrication.  I introduced 3D printing through a Discovery Education board that I created for students.  It was when the 3D printer and design was placed in the hands of students that the real excitement of this journey started.  In an upcoming post, I will share examples of student work…. but here is a brief teaser – Our 3D Printing.  You will need a Discovery Education account in order to access the student work.

March 2014
In the meantime, please access our journey at SP Design Lab.


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