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What Are You Printing Now? Gallery By Christopher Addy The classroom is more engaging with 3D printing. Summer is winding down and education is ramping up as the kiddos head back to school. As any parent knows, you can’t just send your kids to school empty handed! No - they need pencils, pens, paper, binders, organizers, backpacks—the list of supplies is endless. But in today’s interactive classrooms, students and parents alike are demanding something a little more hands-on. For true engagement in the classroom, many teachers are beginning to turn to 3D printers. Or maybe you’d like a skull from an extinct animal or a dissection model for the squeamish. The possibilities are endless. Educators can take it even further with design projects. What better way to get a deeper understanding of an object or a concept than actively participating in its design? There are a number of free modeling applications you can use with students to design and develop working models. 123D Design from Autodesk, for example, is a basic, easy-to-learn, and free program that students can use to begin the hands-on design process. Every kid learns differently. Some are auditory learners, some are visual, and others are more tactile. I’m a visual/tactile learner all the way. If I can see something in action and manipulate it, I have a much better understanding of the mechanics behind it, and it gets me thinking about how I could apply that knowledge to other ideas or projects. Having that deeper level of understanding While the hands-on models are great, bringing is the first step to truly expanding students’ minds 3D printing into the classroom offers so much and being a catalyst for thinking ‘outside the box.’ more. Exposing students to new technologies To help all kids get the most out of their education, helps inspire them and gets them more excited about learning. It also facilitates teamwork and teachers need to be able to adapt lessons to encourages students to interact with one another. incorporate different learning styles. 3D printing All this leads to a deeper, better understanding can be an incredible way to up the game for both of concepts and functionality. Most importantly, visual and tactile learners. 3D printing makes learning more fun. And, the One way that teachers can benefit from a 3D more fun a student has while learning, the more printer is by creating their own learning aids. likely they are to retain and successfully apply that These can range from physics-based designs, to historical architectural reconstructions, to biological newfound knowledge. representations. Things that were previously unavailable or very difficult to obtain can now be printed at home or in the classroom. Want to show how a differential gear drive works? How about a representation of the inside of the Great Pyramid? Through classroom aids, design projects, and more, 3D printing in the classroom breaks down barriers and gives educators the ability to engage children in ways not previously possible. 31