I have had several opportunities to talk to educators and non educators to share what I have been exploring. There is definite wonder over what is possible and that it is a reality that could be in a neighbourhood classroom. I find it amazing to take a 3D digital object that I can visually rotate, scale, and move and be able to print it into the physical. Exciting, interesting, but not transformative. I realized that we now have a relatively stable printing experience, we are ready to move to the next step.
My first venture into something meaningful that was pre-designed is a music box. This printed well and physically works; however, it makes different noises, not music. From colleagues trying it, the turning handle has broken (but we can print a replacement part).
I left that night with the printer creating of pieces for a music box. In theory I arrived and was able to assemble a music box that you can crank and play a song.
Still not very transformative, but at least it could make more curricular connections. Being close to Christmas, a Christmas tree was on my mind and there are many trees that you can print. A tree itself is wasteful; however, when you can print one that integrates with LittleBits or creating electronic circuits, there are at least connections. I think it is more engaging to see the electronics created have applications to daily life.
I will blog about LittleBits soon, but first another project with LittleBits that we printed. There is a car designed for use with the LittleBits. http://littlebits.cc/projects/3d-printed-car
Sometimes doing the ordinary unleashes the ideas for the extra ordinary. Without a 3D printer, students could see the 3D printed car and design their own with cardboard first. (then consider modeling and printing it too.) http://littlebits.cc/projects/nyc-taxi-cab
We have a gallery of objects that we have printed on the ledge of our cubicles. Printing some of the pre-built models may seem basic or wasteful; however, the conversations we have been able to have when they see the gallery of objects is amazing. It is well worth the investment in time and materials.
Now that we have a working system, and the ability to dream, we will look to placing the printer in a school on temporary loan. There are several places that students could extend the ideas from the basic literacy uses and start designing their own models through www.tinkercad.com or Google Sketchup or on an iPad – 123D Make and 123D Design.
How do you see transforming education through access to a 3D printer?