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Everything You Need to Know About 3D Printing Education Programs

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Businesses large and small are taking advantage of the additive technology called 3D printing. Being able to create 3-dimensional objects of almost any shape or form on demand has unleashed countless possibilities while driving various industries to new levels of creativity and production.

The growing use of 3D printing various industries has naturally extended to educational environments, where students learn the technology of their future and reap the benefits that 3d printing has to offer.

The workforce of tomorrow - business leaders, visionaries, inventors, engineers, creators, makers, and artists - is in the classroom today.

Just as students have had to learn about and use computers, there is no doubt today’s students need to understand and use 3D printers. In today’s world technology embodies possibility while 3D printing innovation defines it.

3D printers are now used in a variety of career fields. Consider ...

  • - In the medical field, 3D printers create prosthetic limbs, tracheas, sternums. Skin and tissue are bioprinted. Dentistry professionals 3D print dental crowns and bridges.
  • - In geology 3D printers replicate unreachable subsurface rocks, space rocks, and fragile fossils for visualization and learning purposes.
  • - The veterinary field uses 3D printers for horseshoes and animal prosthetics.
  • - Forensics uses 3D printing technology for replicating crime scenes, facial reconstruction and evidence reproduction.
  • - Engineering 3D prints car and jet engine parts, robotics, satellite parts, and drones.
  • - The architectural and construction industries use 3D printing for scale models and prefab housing.
  • - The fashion industry creates jewelry, designer clothing and cleats for athletic shoes with 3D printing.
  • - In entertainment, there are 3D printed selfies, wedding cake tops that replicate the happy couple, along with toys and toy parts, and custom fit earbuds.

3D Printers Make the Classroom Come Alive

With 3D printers, the classroom becomes an interactive learning center. Educators move beyond telling to showing and creating. Students’ learning and understanding reach new levels as they implement a design and see their vision become a reality.  This creates both excitement and a deeper understanding of the design process.

Regardless of curriculum, 3D printing elevates students from passive consumers of information on a screen or in a text to active, engaged participants through the conception, design, and execution of their projects and interaction with the 3D printer and the teacher.

Visual learning is enhanced by 3D printing and improves students’ understanding of the world when they are able to see and touch their projects.

Learning how 3D printers work and troubleshooting problems promote students’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills. They learn persistence and endurance in overcoming difficulties.

3D printing in the classroom fosters students’ creativity which helps develop their passion for original thinking and innovation as well as developing their self-confidence, enabling them to pursue challenging courses in STEM fields.

Examples of practical applications of 3D printing in the classroom:

  • - In biology, students have the opportunity to create 3D models of DNA; they replicate organs and biological systems.
  • - Chemistry students study 3D printed models of molecules.
  • - Geography students can print topographical maps, or maps showing population and demographics of an area.
  • - History classes can 3D print historic artifacts for closer study.
  • - Auto class students can print replacement or modified car parts.
  • - Cooking school students design intricate molds for ices and gelatins.
  • - In English, literary characters come to life along with devices, tools and other items from stories.
  • - Art creates multimedia elements, sculptures, and custom easels, stands, and frames.
  • - Graphic design students create 3D versions of their artwork.
  • - Architecture students print out 3D models of their designs.
  • - Engineering and design students, just as in the real world, use 3D printers for on-demand prototyping, manufacturing, and production.
  • - CAD (Computer Aided Design) classes create designs that are actually implemented.
  • - Robotics uses 3D printers for designing and making intricate parts for custom devices.
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STEM Education

3D printing education programs enable educators and students to reach multiple learning objectives.

Early exposure to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) is key for building the foundation for advanced thinking skills. Using 3D printers in the classroom incorporates multiple aspects of STEM learning, including critical thinking and team-building skills. 3D printing education programs teach students the process of trial and error, helping to develop the student mindset where it is okay to fail therefore encouraging experimentation in their learning.

Preschool to PhD

With the precise detail, durability, and variety of materials used in 3D printing, it has applications in every stage of education.

Preschoolers’ imaginative play is enhanced by custom accessories and game pieces made with 3D printers.

Elementary students get excited by the expansion of their creativity enabled by 3D printing. Middle and high school students naturally embrace 3D printing as a way of learning teamwork, design, and implementation.

Colleges and universities make extensive use of 3D printers with applications in engineering, medicine, and research, to name just a few.

Instead of just having an awareness of an abstract idea, 3D printing education programs empower educators and students to experience and embrace technology in the present and for the future.

3D Printing Education: Teachers are Vital

The most vital aspect of 3D printing education programs are the teachers, the people tasked with preparing students for today’s workplace. Increasing numbers of schools are buying into 3D technology for the classroom with its potential for facilitating learning.

The best advice for teachers responsible for buying hardware for the classroom is to test it themselves in a workshop. If time does not allow this, they should find other users or sources of knowledge. User forums can provide insight - positive and negative - into figuring out what 3D printing hardware is right for the classroom.

Then, 3D printing classes must be integrated into the classroom in the most effective way possible. Teachers dispensing knowledge about 3D printing must first understand it themselves. This requires comprehensive training and planning along with ongoing technical support.

3D Printing Classes and Resources

MakerBot has developed curriculum resources focused on every stage of education from kindergarten to higher education like technical colleges to universities and innovation centers.

MakerBot’s Thingiverse is one of the largest 3D printing educational resources in the world. It includes educational resources like project modules, comprehensive 3D printing classes, lesson idea videos, and student design competitions.

Thingiverse Education provides over 100 free lessons that make teaching with a 3D printer easier and more effective for a variety of grade levels and subjects. It also provides a community where educators can exchange best practices or remix projects.

MakerBot’s well-known Educators Guidebook and ISTE-approved Educator Certification is the definitive resource for implementing 3D printing in the classroom and is perfect for educators looking to get students excited about 3D printing. It includes a course on 3D printing and 3D design for educators, classroom-ready 3D printing lesson plans, and advice on best practices for 3D printing and STEM educators.

And now, MakerBot’s Certification Program for Students provides middle and high school students a proven edge with design thinking skills and hands-on 3D printing training. It is a cloud-based online learning platform easily scalable for academic institutions and their classrooms.

Igniting student engagement and academic performance, the Student Certification Program sets a foundation for measuring STEM proficiency while empowering students with 21st-century career skills.

The effect and influence of 3D printing on a variety of industries and therefore the importance of 3D printing education is undeniable. Most products in use today involve 3D printing in some way during the design cycle. The workforce of the future will have all been students who have been impacted by 3D printing.