If you’re looking to bring new STEM tools into your classroom, the 3-D printer is one option that deserves a serious look. Increasingly affordable costs and better apps make a 3-D printer a more attractive option for acquisition budgets and grant applications.
Here are some of the benefits you might tout in your quest to land this engaging new learning tool for your classroom.
Unlimited opportunities: A 3-D printer allows students to manufacture real objects based on a computer-assisted design file. This presents untold learning opportunities across several curriculum areas — from history to mathematics to science — for hands-on and engaging learning.
Exposure to technology: It makes no difference what their individual career paths hold for your students, but one thing is clear: Entering the job market with the skills and savvy to understand and work with technology is a must in any field.
Student outreach: Teachers who have brought 3-D printers into their classrooms noticed at least two effects on their students. One, 3-D printers attract a crowd. Students become very interested in other students’ projects and how they’re using the technology, which can be a source of inspiration. Secondly, they offer a positive learning experience, especially for those who struggle in traditional classroom environments and thrive under a more hands-on approach.
Makes the abstract real: Classroom learning is often in the abstract, whether you’re talking about an important battle in U.S. history or the anatomy of a cell. Creating a model — and applying math skills to calculate the correct sizes — makes the abstract real, engaging and understandable.
Real-life experiences: In school, students see failure as something to avoid or a source of shame. When it comes to real-world design and engineering, failure is just part of a process, and a 3-D printer can help teach students how to work with it and persevere. After all, designs seldom succeed on the first try, especially if the student takes on a stretch assignment to complete an ambitious project.
Investing in new classroom technology can be a huge decision for any administrator or teacher to quantify. When used in the classroom, this tool gives students a priceless opportunity to learn — and put their skills and knowledge to work — to help them reach their full potential.