During the summer of 2016, I was an instructor for a 3D printer camp. Part of this camp was for students to be involved in creating items using TinkerCad. TinkerCad is a web based program where students can design and create three dimensional items that can be used in the classroom for projects. The basis of this is to build the item and use it in the project. They learned the Science aspect of the project, utilizing Technology, understanding the Engineering involved in creating the part, developing an appreciation of the visual Arts in developing the project, and calculating the Mathematical formulas involved in creating the part for the project (STEAM). The items the students designed were printed using a 3-D printer provided by the 1st Maker Space program.
As I was going through the training videos for this program, I was wondering how I could incorporate the activities into my classroom. We are moving toward recreating any item we need by pulling up designs off the internet and printing those items in our own homes. Manufacturing is doing this now. If a particular part is needed for a machine, it used to take days for replacement parts. Today, replacement parts take a matter of a couple of hours to make using design software and 3-D printers.
Our students need training on design and production. My class, Integrated Chemistry and Physics, lends itself to utilizing this software and hardware in the class. I have two major projects (one each semester) where I have implemented the engineering and design standards along with pre-manufacturing standards into my curriculum. One such project is a mouse trap car project. The past two years students brought items from home along with using scrap items from around the classroom to design the car. This included using pencils and cardboard cutouts for wheels and axles. The TinkerCad software would allow students the opportunity to design wheels of the appropriate size and axles that fit snugly with the wheels designed specifically for the car being designed.
The second project is research the students conduct over the periodic table. Each student is responsible for researching an element. In the past, the students have written a research paper on the element, drawn a Bohr Model, created a 9-page spread project, and created a model of their atom. This year, we added a project where each student designed a cube. This was done through the same TinkerCad website. Each student designed their own cube with the atomic number, atomic mass, name of the element, and symbol. This was downloaded and printed, creating a 3-D periodic table.
Having the technology available in the classroom allows students the opportunity to explore different content standards and become creative in the design process.
Today's thoughts come to us from Kevin Self. Mr. Self is in his second year as a teacher at Pike High School. Prior to this, he served as a school administrator and teacher in 4 other schools in Indiana. He has taught multiple levels of science during his 20 year career. Technology and creativity are a major part of his classes.