March 20, 2014

World 3D Printing Expo

Recently I had the privilege of attending the World 3D Printing Expo in Burbank, California. I was invited to attend and participate on a panel to discuss 3D printing in the classroom. The entire event was a fantastic experience.

The first session I attended was on how to fund 3D printing in the classroom. A very important topic. This seems to be the biggest hurdle in getting 3D printing programs going. The main speaker was Debby Kurti of Table Top Inventing (formerly Windy Ridge Innovation 3D WRI3D). She presented numerous ways to find funding that seemed incredibly doable. The session was part of the education strand of the expo.

After the session I was able to mill around the expo hall. They had demonstrations of printers, software, and other gadgets. I was really impressed with the different kinds of art that people had made with their 3D printers. I spoke to one architect/artist who was experimenting with natural printing materials such as salt (taken from San Francisco Bay) and concrete. I was also really impressed with the medical applications that were on display. It was a good reminder of how this technology will be relevant in a variety of industries in the future.

The session I presented at was fantastic. I shared the stage with Dr. David Thornburg of the Thornburg Center. I have been aware of his work for awhile and was floored that I was actually sitting at the table with him. Also sitting at the table was Steve Kurti of Table Top Inventing and Christine Mytko, an outstanding teacher who is currently using 3D printing in her classroom. You should really be reading her blog.

We discussed the impact of 3D printing in the classroom, what teachers need to overcome in order to get started, and how to use 3D printing in a way that covers state standards. I was able to share my Entomology Unit and Christine shared how magnifying a piece of a Mentos candy shell and printing it, her students were able to see how and why the “Mentos in the Coke Bottle” reaction is physical and not chemical. We had wonderful questions from the audience. It was nice to see other educators who were interested in using this technology.

The most exciting part for me was meeting other educators who are as passionate about this as I am. Many people came up to me afterwards and asked questions or connected to me via social media. I feel like my network is growing and now I have many more people that I can learn from and go to for advice. Overall the entire expo was a great experience and I hope I can attend again.