3D Printers for School and Education | MakerBot

Have you ever dreamt of imagining something into existence? If so, then 3D printing is just the technology for you and your classroom. Students of all ages love the technology of 3D printing because it feeds into a basic instinct of creativity that all of us have. Learning and teaching how a 3D printer works has never been easier, and the prices of good models have been dropping ever since they first started making them for the masses. In this post, we will investigate different ways a printer can be used in the classroom, which are firstly, what we call "concept printing", secondly, printing models for a classroom, and finally, printing your imagination. We will also go through some things to look out for when you buy a printer for the classroom.

The world around us is changing every single day. Why should our classrooms be stuck in the 20th century? That is why we should always investigate ways to bring what makes the outside world interesting, into our classrooms. That may include laptops, phones, the internet, and now you can include a 3D printer in that list. Introducing a 3D printer into the classroom will give the students to actively implement what they have learned. Imagine a classroom where a teacher will teach a concept to a group of students, who then have to go and figure out how to print the concept into the real world. A teacher might be teaching how a pulley works, then the students might need to go and print the different types of pulleys themselves. This will cause students to make errors and learn from them. A trial-and-error method of learning is very effective if they are not stuck at a dead-end and get disinterested. This is where the teacher comes in, the teacher will guide the students along whenever they make a mistake. Learning will be very efficient with the help of a 3D printer.

There are many models and drawings that just do not seem right on a 2-dimensional paper. Take for example a model of a heart, or a model of a car, a diagram of them in the textbook just do not translate how beautiful and harmonious they actually are in the real world. A 3D printer will be able to print those 2-dimensional models and bring them into the real world. They used to say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but now we should be saying that a 3D model is worth a million words because it is that much more effective than a photo. In a classroom, a teacher can print out a model of a T-rex skeleton beforehand, and then teach the class with an example of how they used to look in the real world. The more senses you incorporate when learning, the more you learn. So, when students can see, touch, and feel what they are learning, they learn a lot faster. The teacher does not need to learn how to use a 3D modeling software to do this, they can go over to the Skriware website and get a whole library of printable models.

A learning environment will never be complete without a class completely dedicated to fostering the imagination of the young mind. A classroom that gives kids the ability to actually let loose on their imagination and bring their inner self into the real world would be the ideal classroom for them. This classroom can teach the kids methods to harness their imagination by teaching them 3D modeling software like Tinkercad. Tinkercad is a beginner-friendly modeling software that can then be used to print a 3D model from a printer. Students might create a new instrument, a new automobile, or anything that tickles their imagination.  

A 3D printer in a classroom sounds like rainbows and sunshine, so who is actually supporting it in the real world? There is a program called iDigFossils doing exactly that. iDigFossils is a program developed by the University of Florida, and the Florida Museum of Natural History. University of Florida associate professor of educational technology and principal investigator Pavlo Antonenko said that iDigFossils is essentially bringing the museum into the classroom. In this program, the teachers are trained professionally to use the 3D printing technology and get students to engage in the activities.

Now that you are all excited to buy a 3D printer for your educational institution, let’s look at the things you should know about when buying them. The first thing is the budget that you have. There might be grants, and funding you can apply to. You can find 3D printers that cost anywhere between $300 to $3,500. Which one to buy depends on how many you are going to buy, and the type of funding you have available. Some printer manufacturers also give an educational discount so keep an eye out for that. The next thing to consider is the type of printing material they print with. An affordable material might be a good choice but cheaper is not always better. A printing material called Antibacterial PLA is the best choice for a school. All 3D printers produce emissions when they work, so they should be in a well-ventilated place. Although some of the emissions are just smells from heated materials, others can be health risks.

In conclusion, a 3D printer is a perfect addition to a classroom if the classroom teaches complicated things that are not easily understood through figures in a textbook. A teacher can use 3D printed models in the classroom to teach various concepts. A 3D model will engage the tactile, and visual senses to aid a student's learning journey. Another way to use a 3D printer is to allow students to print out concepts they learned in the classroom. A student can print out a pulley, a wheel, or anything that will apply the concepts they were taught in the classroom. 3D printers can also allow students to foster their imagination by letting them bring their thoughts into the real world. There already are programs that help put 3D printers in educational institutions, and you should definitely consider getting one for your classroom.