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Plastic fantastic: 3D printer projects for schools
Using 3D printers in schools is still a relatively new idea for teachers. However, in a range of subjects from biology to maths, 3D printers are increasingly being used to help kids engage with and learn about new materials. They’re also great tools for project-based learning – encouraging crucial life skills such as problem-solving, logic and reasoning.
This article looks at the uses of 3D printers in schools, how they can benefit students and offers some practical ideas for 3D printer projects – covering a range of curriculum subjects.
What is 3D printing?
3D printing is the term used for the processes involved in creating 3D physical objects from a digital model. One of the most popular process for doing so in education is Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM). This is where a moving nozzle ejects melted plastic onto a build surface layer by layer, until a physical 3D object is created.
Creating an object which has a purpose challenges kids to use creativity and teamwork. It can also help students get to grips with complex ideas they might struggle with when taught in traditional ways.
How can I incorporate 3D printing into my teaching?
Using 3D printing in your lessons might seem like a leap into the unknown, but 3D printer projects can be incorporated into a huge range of subjects.
Here are a few of our top ideas for 3D printer projects in the classroom:
1) Geography – create physical maps
There’s no easier way for kids to visualise the geography of the world than seeing it with their own eyes. Choose a country with interesting geography, e.g. the United States, and create your own maps of specific regions. You could create a model of the Rocky Mountains or the Grand Canyon – an epic way to bring a geography lesson to life!
2) Art and Design – create artwork frames
This project is simple and ideal for younger kids. Task students with designing a modular frame for a piece of art to test out their geometry skills. To add some extra challenge, ask kids to create decorations that can be added to the frame so they can customise their designs!
3) Engineering – build a bridge
Ask students to print a series of structures that can fit together to form a bridge. Add some extra challenge by asking them to create a bridge that can support a specific weight.
4) Maths – work out area and fractions
Why not use 3D printing to help kids explore the idea of areas and fractions? By printing out shapes, students can see that they take up space and occupy a specific area. You might also want to print a ‘fraction pie’ to help them visualise the parts of a fraction in relation to the whole.
These are just some of the many ways you can include 3D printer projects in your lessons. At Utility Rentals, we have a great range of school-friendly 3D printers for your wannabe engineers. Our flexible rental packages include installation, training and a parts and labour breakdown warranty for the full rental term, so getting a 3D printer for your school couldn’t be any simpler.
For more help choosing 3D printers for your school, contact our expert team today.