Instructor, University at Albany, Department of Informatics
Instructor, College of St. Rose, Music Department
2015 Artist in Residence, Arts Center of the Capital District.
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 children grades 4-6 will be introduced to, and explore the world of 3D printing through demonstrations and activities.
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 wiht 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.
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 and 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 children 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
Children 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 4-6 grade students with 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 person, giving the students valuable time up close and personal with the world of 3D printing. While there is significant information available on the internet about 3D printing, 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.
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 to start the student on a journey. On one end of the spectrum, this journey may one day lead to a career in digital design or on the other hand may simply provide the student with an enriching experience and appreciation for the field. It is impossible to tell the impact the course will have, yet it should be a potentially rewarding experience nonetheless.
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.
Additionally, 3D printing brings together many disciplines in STEM / STEAM and indeed take years of training to fully master. If the students are exposed to 3D printing at an early age they will hopefully become comfortable with the technology and perhaps become 3D printing natives similar to the way Marc Prensky’s classification of digital natives vs. digital immigrants.