Instructor, University at Albany, Department of Informatics
Instructor, College of St. Rose, Music Department
2015 Artist in Residence, Arts Center of the Capital District and the Tech Valley Center of Gravity
Previous faculty positions include Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute & Bennington College.
Personal & research interests include multimedia, electronic art, 3D printing & web technologies.
Multimedia / Creative Consultant / Owner - Northeast Multimedia.
In this mini course adult learners will be introduced to, and explore the world of 3D printing through demonstrations and activities. This professional development course will bring educators (referred to as educators or students) up to date on 3D printing technology.
Commercially available desktop 3D printers are widely available and becoming more common in schools, libraries and even homes. 3D printing brings many disciplines together in Science Technology Engineering Arts Math - commonly known as STEAM.
Each student will be able to answer the following questions at the conclusion of the course:
- How does a 3D printer work? (How does a printer function overall? What material does a 3D printer print with?)
- What are the components of a 3D printer? (Individual Parts / Components)
- What are some projects / things that have been printed with a 3D printer? (What can be done with a 3D printer today?)
- What might be possible with a 3D printer in the future? (Emerging Trends)
Additionally, students will be able to create basic models using pre-defined geometric shapes in a free software package called Tinkercad. This addresses Higher Order Thinking as related to Bloom's theory of cognitive domain as students must Remember, Understand, Apply, Analyze, Evaluate and Create.
Educators will use this as a jumping off point for potentially including 3D printing technology into their courses.
Needs Assessment Analysis of the Learner and Context Performance Objectives
While 3D printing has been commonplace in industrial and manufacturing contexts for decades, it has been traditionally prohibitive for the average person to be able to afford a 3D printer or have the knowledge required to operate one. Today desktop 3D printers are widely available and cost as little as a few hundred dollars. There is no shortage of information available on the internet about 3D printing; however, in my teaching and in the educational outreach events I have participated in, I have found that most people have never seen a 3D printer in person before. The number of people that have used a 3D printer is even less.
As 3D printing, digital design and manufacturing will no doubt play a significant role in our future, it is important to expose educators to how 3D printing works, how it can be used today and how it may be used in the future.
What is to be Learned
Students in the course will develop an overall understanding of how a 3D printer works as well as an understanding for how each component of a 3D printer work. Knowing this will allow them to understand what is currently possible and what will be possible in the future.
The learners will be teachers and educators across the spectrum of subjects. This will not be targeted strictly at technology teachers, but rather teachers who might incorporate 3D printing or it's ideas into their coursework in some manner. Students in the class will have varying degrees of exposure to technology and computers. This course will be offered to students as a workshop or extra curricular program. If this is not a mandatory course, learners may be more motivated to learn about the subject given the extra commitment necessary to participate.
This instruction will take place in a blended environment, giving the students the ability to learn about 3D printing through the online course, as well as including valuable time up close and personal with actual 3D printers. The in person component will be accomplished in a 1 day seminar at the conclusion of the online portion.
The online portion of the class will set the stage for students and provide a foundation for the in person component.
To be able to work with one hands on will accelerate one’s understanding of how the machine works when things are going well and how to troubleshoot things when the machine is not performing optimally. As 3D printing is an emerging industry, the technology is not perfect and much of the time, things go wrong; however, this is a valuable learning opportunity.
As 3D printing sometimes hours to print something the size of a tennis ball, students will also have to think about the limited resource of time during the one day workshop.
The morning will be structured as a demonstration & review, with students able to see the machines they have been studying online in person. In the afternoon session, students will work on computers and "print" their own designs.
Exploring the Instructional Opportunity and the Solution
The instruction and projects will be tailored to the learners’ prior knowledge with computers and access to appropriate in class technology. Additionally, the motivation and attitudes of the students will enhance the opportunities that exist.
The primary goal of this course is make someone aware and conversant with the technology. If this hypothetical situation developed because the school received a grant of 3D printers, there might be a stipulation that teachers integrate them into curriculum. For now, I am just operating under the idea that this course is part of a continuing education / professional development "elective" that teachers can take from a menu of options in a STEM/STEAM track.
This class is designed to take someone with zero knowledge and experience and give them a working knowledge of 3d printing much the same an adult will have working knowledge of how a car works: the engine makes the car go, it requires gas and maintenance, there is an electrical system that powers windshield wipers and headlights, tires need to be changed, safe operation of the car, laws, etc.
While there will be a 1 day workshop, 3D printers are slow and it is not feasible to have one printer per student given the amount of space, energy & supplies they consume at their current price. Because of this, students will be sharing one or two printers for every ten students and will need to think about how to best utilize their access to a shared resource.
3D printing brings together many disciplines in STEM / STEAM and indeed take years of training to fully master. If the teachers in this class are exposed to 3D printing earlier, rather than later, the intent is for them to incorporate the ideas and processes that exist into their classes.
Bloom’s Thinking Skills (Instructivist)
Remember: Recall the names of the different parts of a 3D printer.
Understand: Identify which parts are safe to touch and which are not.
Apply: Understand how long a particular 3D print will take.
Analyze: Compare the different in print quality for a print created a low quality setting vs. a high quality setting
Evaluate: Given 3 print options Low, Medium and High which will have increasing print times respectfully, determine when it is appropriate to use each.
Create: Create a 3D model and print.