September 11, 2014
First Print of the Year
It’s a new year, and I have chosen a new theme for my blog. I have also decided to write about more than just 3D printing in the classroom…maybe. I doubt I will vary too much from 3D printing in the classroom because it is so amazing, but I realized that last year I had so much fun with 3D printing that I forgot to mention I was piloting a 1 to 1 “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) program where each student uses a tablet assigned to or brought in by the student. I am continuing with that program this year, and I thought some educators might be interested in reading about my experiences with that program as well. I also recently acquired a bunch of new Arduinos (small programmable computers), lots of LEDs, and other small electronic components and I plan on really expanding my unit on electricity this year. We are going to have a lot of fun programming and making really interesting things. One of the first projects on the list is going to be blinky lights with our study buddies! Stay tuned for that update.
Today was a milestone in Room 30 because today is the first day that a student from this class printed something they designed. This year we asked parents to send their kids to school with earbuds. We have had headphones for the class in the past but there are problems with sharing headphones with many students, and we thought it would be easier if they brought in their own. Bringing in earbuds is a good thing, but it creates a bit of a problem. Have you ever seen loose earbuds in a pencil box? It is not a pleasant sight, and I really don’t want to spend my time untangling them. Now we have a wonderful problem to solve. I introduced 3D printing to the class by demonstrating how to download a file and print it on one of our Afinia printers. They were hooked and the earbud holders that we printed were immediately useful.
I’m all for finding files on the internet and using them when it’s appropriate, but the power in this technology is having kids create and make their own projects. Therefore, I challenged them to create their own earbud holders to see if they can improve on the design we printed. Within the day a student had already made a new earbud holder that worked better than the one we printed. I really didn’t expect it to happen that quickly. Although, I probably should have.
What is even more interesting to me is that they did it on an iPad app that I thought was fun but not very practical for making anything useful. Kids never cease to amaze me. I started a “What to do When You Are Finished” page on our class wiki and listed several projects for students to work on. One of them was to make polygons with an iPad app called Cubify Draw. Cubify Draw is a fun app to play with, but you can’t do much with it. But you can make polygons. So, I showed the class how and they were very intrigued. As I was showing them I realized we were making a 3 dimensional object to represent a 2 dimensional shape. Usually it’s the other way around. Anyway, by the end of the day one student had already created something, uploaded it to the cloud, downloaded it to the computer, connected to the 3D printer, and started to print it (with my help).
The next day, she took her project off of the print bed and wrapped her earbuds around it. I didn’t realize she was creating it for that purpose. It was in the shape of a heart with a hollow inside like a cookie cutter. The part that I loved was how the earbuds and connector piece fit inside the heart while the wires wrapped around the outside of it. One of the things that made the first earbud holders awkward was that there was nowhere to put the hard plastic pieces. My student solved that problem on the first try. I can tell this is going to be a fantastic year, I really can’t wait to see what this class is going to create.