3D printing in the classroom should be an integral part of a school’s curriculum. In the ever-evolving landscape of education, the integration of cutting-edge technologies has become paramount to preparing students for the challenges of the future. 3D printing not only captivates the imagination but also fosters a dynamic learning environment. In this blog, we will explore the benefits of introducing 3D printing into the classroom and the importance of a high-quality curriculum, to maximize students’ educational potential.
We have also included a FREE teacher checklist to download at the end of this blog. This includes all the key points to consider when getting started with 3D printing in the classroom and can be used with our 3D printer grant template when submitting a bid for a 3D printer.
Hands-On Learning for Tangible Understanding: Bringing Designs to Life
Traditional education often struggles to bridge the gap between theoretical concepts and practical applications. 3D printing changes this and allows students to bring ideas to life, it’s a revolutionary tool that transforms ideas into tangible, physical objects. This hands-on approach is a game-changer for student learning, and when coupled with intuitive design packages like TinkerCAD and Fusion 360, it takes the learning experience to new heights.
A. TinkerCAD: The Gateway to Creativity
TinkerCAD serves as a perfect entry point for students diving into the world of 3D design. Its user-friendly interface and simplified tools empower even the youngest learners to create intricate designs effortlessly. TinkerCAD’s intuitive drag-and-drop features and interactive tutorials allow students to quickly grasp the basics of 3D modeling, turning their imaginative concepts into virtual prototypes. Here we have listed some benefits of TinkerCAD;
- Accessibility: TinkerCAD is a cloud-based platform, eliminating the need for hefty downloads. Students can access their projects from any device with an internet connection, fostering flexibility and collaboration.
- User-Friendly Interface: The simplicity of TinkerCAD’s interface reduces the learning curve, making it an ideal starting point for students new to 3D design.
- Teacher dashboard: TinkerCAD has a teacher dashboard where you can monitor your student’s designs.
This is an example of one of our Tutorials to get started with 3D printing in the classroom. It’s part of our free lesson and is a great way to introduce students to designing for real life scenarios.
In this case they are tasked with created a 3D pencil grip to aid with handwriting. While the task looks relatively simple, this tutorial showcases the real power of TinkerCAD and uses multiple different modelling featured to create the design.
Another benefit is this design is quick to print, meaning printing out large classes of students work can be done quickly.
B. Fusion 360: Elevating Design to the Next Level
For students ready to delve deeper into 3D design, Fusion 360 is the winner in our opinion, like TinkerCAD it’s also FREE for education. Developed by Autodesk, Fusion 360 caters to more advanced users, offering a comprehensive suite of tools for parametric modeling, simulation, and collaborative design. Its capabilities extend beyond basic shapes, allowing students to create intricate and functional designs that push the boundaries of their creativity. The benefits of Fusion 360 include;
Parametric Modeling: Fusion 360’s parametric modeling enables students to create designs that are easily editable and adaptable, fostering an understanding of design iteration.
Real-World Applications: Fusion 360 is widely used in professional settings, exposing students to tools and workflows used in industry-standard design practices.
Collaborative Features: The cloud-based nature of Fusion 360 facilitates collaboration, enabling students to work on projects simultaneously, promoting teamwork and communication skills.
The images on the right show some of the tutorials from our learn the basics of Fusion 360 course. This is a great course to enroll on when getting started with 3D printing in the classroom if you have limited 3D modeling skills.
The course takes you from a complete beginner to a confident user of Fusion 360, giving you all the skills you need to teach 3D Design in the classroom.
C. The skills progression: TinkerCAD to Fusion 360
The beauty of incorporating both TinkerCAD and Fusion 360 lies in their complementary nature. TinkerCAD acts as the perfect stepping stone, introducing students to the fundamentals of 3D design, while Fusion 360 provides a more robust platform for those ready to tackle complex projects. This progression allows for a seamless transition, ensuring that students of all skill levels can participate in the 3D printing journey.
Fostering Creativity and Critical Thinking: 3D Printing as a Catalyst for Innovation
Education is not just about transferring knowledge; it’s about nurturing the skills that will empower students to thrive in a rapidly evolving world. 3D printing is a dynamic tool that not only captures the imagination but also serves as a catalyst for fostering creativity and critical thinking in the classroom.
A. Turning Imagination into Reality:
One of the most exciting aspects of 3D printing is its ability to turn ideas into real life rapidly. Students are no longer confined to pencil and paper; they can now bring their ideas to life. Whether it’s designing an iPhone case or a storage device, 3D printing provides a medium for students to explore and realize their ideas.
B. Iterative Design and Problem-Solving:
3D printing introduces a practical, hands-on approach to problem-solving. As students embark on designing and printing their creations, they inevitably encounter challenges. This iterative process, where they refine and improve their designs based on real-world feedback, cultivates a resilient and problem-solving mindset. This iterative design thinking is a cornerstone of creativity, encouraging students to view challenges as opportunities for improvement and growth.
C. Interdisciplinary Exploration:
Creativity flourishes when different fields intersect. 3D printing naturally lends itself to interdisciplinary exploration, encouraging students to combine knowledge from various subjects to create holistic and innovative solutions. For instance, learning about how 3D printers work draws upon Math skills and an understanding of co-ordinates. Learning about different types of materials and their properties draws upon their materials science knowledge. This interdisciplinary approach not only enriches the learning experience but also nurtures creative thinking by connecting different pieces of knowledge.
D. Personalized Learning Journeys:
Every student is unique, and 3D printing in the classroom allows for a personalized learning experience. As students engage in designing projects aligned with their interests, they take ownership of their learning journey. This autonomy sparks curiosity and a sense of agency, fostering a creative environment.
E. Inspiring Future Innovators:
By integrating 3D printing into the classroom, educators have the opportunity to inspire the next generation of innovators. Exposing students to this transformative technology at an early age instills a sense of curiosity and a passion for exploration. As students are exposed to 3D printing in the classroom, they are more likely to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.
High quality curriculum is key to student progress when starting out with 3D printing in the classroom
Learnbylayers curriculum materials are designed by current teachers and taught in hundreds of schools around the world. At the time of writing this blow, our curriculum is taught in schools in 33 countries to over 500,000 students.
“It has helped us to quickly focus on the key skills and reduced the time spent in researching and preparing resources for students.”
“This resource was very helpful to my students when learning to 3D print objects for Science.”
Download the 3D printing checklist below to assist you with setting up 3D printing in the classroom.
Enter your details below and you will be able to download a printable copy of the 3D printing checklist. This lists everything you need to get started with 3D printing in the classroom and is ideal for using in addition to the grant proposal form. If you are bidding for a 3D printer then this will help evidence that you have considered all the necessary points needed to get started. ]
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