3d printing in the classroom

May 22, 2014

The Word is Getting Out

After having the 3D printer for almost a year, word has gotten out that there’s a 3D printer in Mr. Barnett’s room. I recently had two fifth grade students approach me and ask if I could print something for them. At this time of year, 5th grade begins working on one of their final projects of the year, National Landmarks. This was one of my favorite projects when I taught fifth grade because it involved creating tangible projects.

The students choose and research a national monument. Then they build a replica of that monument as close to scale as possible. They also have a very nice PowerPoint slide that they make, print, and stand next to the model. Last year students implemented some technology by making a trailer in iMovie that advertised their monument, then stuck a QR code on the PowerPoint slide. Students are required to bring in their own materials and are given class time to build their structures.

The first student that approached me was working on the Lincoln Memorial, and he wanted to know if he could print the statue of Abraham Lincoln. He was building the rest himself but wanted to know if he could print Lincoln. I introduced him to a few of my students who have been working with the 3D printer and they showed him the ropes.

After a few minutes searching for designs on Thingiverse they found a model that would work. When it came time to print he realized he had no idea what size to print the statue. He went back to class and decided to build the structure first then measure it and print it based on that. He came back a few weeks later and we printed him up Honest Abe.

The second student was researching the Statue of Liberty. She new exactly how big she wanted it. It didn’t take long to find a file and print it up. She quickly painted it and placed her on her stand. Theproject looks fantastic.

I’m wondering how many students will come to me next year? I’m also thinking about how I can encourage them to create their own files to print instead of downloading a file that someone else has made? This is another example of how 3D printing is effortlessly working its way into the classroom.


The student is making sure everything is to scale.

The student is making sure everything is to scale.

Lady Liberty is standing strong.

Lady Liberty is standing strong.

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