Essential Question: How can 3D-printing change the way we think about education?

Aleta May

Initial Post for Week Seven Emerging Technologies EDET 678

Essential Question: How can 3D-printing change the way we think about education?

Versatility and Prototyping activities in schools lead are in demand through Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS); easy to use once a little bit of software is learned. Applications of using the software to create with the 3D printer; math, geometry, architecture, and recreating historical artifacts learned about in class; “brings the student to the thing that they are learning.” As an example of using a touchpad screen, students can set controls such as temperature movement, fan controls, and adjust tunings. In turn, they may preview the settings visually. Printers use the filament to take a design created by the student to see it manifest in reality. The software for creating that is shown in the video clip below is intuitive so students can get into the printing and use their time to imagine and create. As students advance in their understanding of how 3D programming and printing works, they can visualize how engineers might use the 3D printer capabilities for rapid prototyping.

Another value for students is to learn to imagine and create specifically for their own personal needs rather than waiting for an invention to come out onto the market with what they are imagining.

Here is a 4’42” video clip that helps answer the question about how 3D Printing can help change the way we think about education:

What is the central idea or theme of the project that demonstrates how it connects to the NGSS? Many subject areas connect to NGSS. The core ideas for K-12 science is that the NGSS have broad application or a primary concept that organizes a single science area; use key tools that help students understand what they investigate; should be relevant to the students’ life experiences and concerns; and core ideas need to relate to multiple grade levels with increasing depth.

Science has so many application that it touches on just about any other subject area in school; science is the core of life itself. Physical, life, earth/space, engineering, technology and applications are all science areas that interconnect with each other and cross over into humanities, math, art, literature, etc. In order to fulfill the intent of the NGSS, students need to be involved in “designing, making, and working with tangible projects, . . .” (Thornburg, Thornburg, & Armstrong, 2014, p.3). To lead students to design and build their own projects, they first need to become familiar with the 3D programming machine. It is okay if they come up with unexpected designs. But to lower the learning curve a bit in order to get students started, some Computer Aided Design (CAD) software may be best.

NGSS is a set of core principles that do not equate curriculum; rather it is based on “student performance expectations” (Thornburg, Thornburg, & Artmstrong, p. 9). In math applications, many projects require accuracy, and precision. For example, Common Core Math Standards include modeling mathematics, strategically using tools, focusing on precision, and finding expressions for repetitious reasoning (Thornburg, et al., p. 9).

One 3D project that caught my attention from the article by Voo (2016), is the plastic weaving loom. I completely agree that history class can be made so much or intriguing by using an openSCAD program to design tools that were similar to the tools of the trade in History. Another project that I believe would be particularly relevant in our class is Project 19. Finding ways to make their own fabrics, students in our village could use design of 3D-Printed Fabrics to find ways to make our own fabrics such as for fishing nets (rather than the idea presented in the article of purchasing premade clothing).

What does 3D Printing have to do with the future careers of our students? Briefly, it overlaps into medical uses from rebuilding a broken body part to creating human kidney by using that person’s own cells, and someday reproducing a heart (Thornburg, et al., p. 2), rapid prototyping, customized parts such as for jewelry, and home construction. These examples alone cover a wide span of how the understanding of how to use 3D printing by applying it across the curriculum is important for preparing students for future careers.

As I look at the chart from makershed (see references) to compare a variety of 3D printers, I keep in mind that at my site, we need durable equipment yet kid friendly. This one looks like a friendly printer that permits students to view most of the 3D making process, yet safely: Leapfrog is a company that has been around for several years. If our purpose as educators is to get started, and have guides and lesson plans, then I believe we should start small. With confidence, the next printer will be more advanced for more advanced projects. Sometimes trying to stick with certain brands can become a trap where we rely only on materials and software from an expensive company. Ideally, we could start with one simple 3D printer for students who need more guidance while simultaneously with a more advanced and larger 3D printer for creating larger items; such as weaving looms for blankets. So starting with one, then branching off to more sophisticated equipment sounds like a great way to begin walking down the path toward incorporating 3D printer making into our making.


3D Printed Robot (See pdf from this link in folder):

3D Printing for education (Leapfrog 3D Printers):

  • Introduction
  • Lesson plans
  • The benefits of 3D printing for teaching
  • The essence of 3D printing for teaching

Thornburg, D. D., Thornburg, N., & Armstrong, S. (2014). The invent to learn guide to 3D printing in the classroom: Recipes for success. Constructing Modern Knowledge Press at

Three Dimensional Learning Retrieved July 4, 2016.

Voo, B. (Retrieved June 27, 2016). 20 Amazing creations you can make with 3D printing:

23 useful things you can make with a 3D printer–Link:

Federico-O’Murchu, L. (11 May, 2014). How 3-D printing will radically change the world.

Maker Shed 3D Printer Comparison:

MatterHackers (January 19, 2016). 3D Printing- The Future Of Education:

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