January 1, 2015
HOW DID I MISS THIS!? I’ve mentioned before how I am excited to download and print the files that have been printed on the International Space Station. I was looking for the site where the files will eventually be available again when I came across Future Engineers. The website introduces a contest for students in K-12 to design a tool that can be printed in space. It begins with this short paragraph;
If you are a K thru 12 student in the United States, your challenge is To Design a Space Tool. The ability to 3D print in space is a game-changer for space exploration. Just think about it, when astronauts are on Mars, they will have the ability to make whatever they need, on demand, even though Earth is just a little blue glimmer in the sky. That’s exactly why we are challenging our next generation of explorers to start designing parts for space now. We want students to create and submit a digital 3D model of a tool that they think astronauts need in space. If you win, your design will become a part of space history as one of the first things ever to be 3D Printed in Space.
It’s a perfect project for my students, and I completely missed the deadline. Of course that doesn’t mean we can’t still create tools for space. This project has inspired me to create a new unit to teach when I back from the winter break.
We are going to start with new “Invention Journals” I’m going to make these when I get back. Something simple where the students can sketch, draw, and write down their ideas for the rest of the year. Next year I will get these going at the beginning of the year. I’m even thinking of having some mornings where I give them a prompt for their inventing journal instead of their writing journal. I’m sure there will be a fair amount of writing.
After introducing their inventing journals I will share the introduction video from FutureEngineers.org to get their Imaginations going. I will show them the video of the astronaut introducing the challenge. After that, we will brainstorm ideas for tools. The website has a gallery of the submitted tools, but I will hold off on showing these until the kids are in the middle of designing their own. I want their ideas to be their own, but once they start designing they might want to look at other tools to help them figure out how to make their tool work. I will also invite any parents or people I know who are engineers to come in and give some advice on what kind of problems they could solve with tools.
When we are done with the brainstorm and discussion I will give them time to work in their journals and come up with something. Then we begin the process of taking their ideas and making them a reality. That is the magic of 3D printing. Having an idea, designing the idea, making that idea become real with 3D printing. I am really anxious to see what my students will create.