Here is a sample of the fresh crop of buildings for our model river that demonstrates erosion.
3D printing has the ability to change the game of education in two ways. It can empower teachers to act as designers, which they do already when designing lessons. (Teacher as Designer compliments of Dr. David Crismond @CCNY)
The MakerBot enables me to create custom hands on materials specifically for my students learning needs. Just today I created a block of brownstones to demonstrate green roof technology. I drafted the homes to look like the ones that surround my school. I included an area on top to be filled with soil and planted with grass. The students will pour 10mL of water in the planted and non-planted buildings. They will collect and measure the runoff from the drain in the bottom of the building. I would not be able to do this lesson without a 3D printer in my room.
The second way 3D printing will improve education will be when the students act as designers. My second grade students, 7 year olds, designed buildings for an erosion demonstration. Rather than show the students how water can move sand, I had them place their buildings on a model river. The impact of erosion became clear once the children saw the life hazard once a home floated down the river. We also related the project to the devastation caused by the flooding of the Passaic River in Patterson, NJ after hurricane Irene.
Letting students design and rapidly fabricate their ideas takes project based learning to the next level. By giving children the tools of a professional designer/engineer/architect/artist, we recognize that their ideas are important and should be developed. I can’t imagine the wonderful things that children will develop after having years of 3D printing before even going to high school. Teachers will be able to engage students in rewarding and meaningful lessons that are relevant to their students. A lesson that is a hit in Harlem might be a flop in Flushing.
Last November my students began a culminating project on erosion to conclude a second grade unit on Earth materials. We used the MakerBot to fabricate small buildings to be placed on the banks of a model river.
The river model demonstrates water’s ability to change the surface of the earth. I made the project more interesting by adding the buildings to the river. This way the children could see the impact that erosion can have on humans.
The children used 3dtin.com to create their buildings. This is a free web-based 3D modeling program. The children were limited to creating their buildings with simple cubes. This constraint was caused by my inability to get WebGL/Chrome to work on our school laptops. This was a good limitation for their first foray into 3D modeling, but I would like to resolve this issue for our next project. Once I resolved, the students will be able to place a variety of shapes in their models(spheres, cones, text, etc).
A small number of students in each class took to the drafting program immediately. A majority of the children needed several 45 min periods of time on the program and some coaching from me. Each class had a few students(1-3) who were unable to create a printable building. Printing was an ongoing task. Each building took between 1-2 hours to print. The video below shows MakerBot printing.
After we had most of the buildings printed, we ran the test. Students decided where to place the buildings near the river in a pre flood state. After all the buildings were placed I caused a flood by dumping extra water at the source and increasing the flow of the pump. Students observed the river for about 5 minutes. They also viewed a time lapse video of the river that condensed 1 hour into about 3 minutes. Here is that video:
After conducting the test and viewing the video students completed a worksheet and rubric(03c-RiverErosionRubric) on their building.
The children really enjoyed this project. Now I need to think of our next MakerBot infused project.
This work was made possible by the NYUPoly Center for K-12 STEM Education, MakerBot Industries, PS 3 The Bedford Village School, and 3dtin.com.
There is a thriving maker movement in United States, flea and craft markets filled with beautiful handmade goods, hackers repurposing old electronics, new moms knitting sweaters, urban gardeners canning their own pickles, etc. Americans have a strong desire to create and innovate. Blogs have enabled people to share their crafts with fellow crafters all over the world. Our country needs a brain infusion to get back on our A game. The brains are all around us just waiting to be provoked. The expression “it’s not rocket science” implies resistance to that level of knowledge. We need shoot for the stars to reach our full potentials.
Many of my students do not have the Internet in their homes. I am going to expose them to the DIY world through the MakerBot. I was recently loaned a Thing-O-Matic 3D printer from MakerBot Industries. The SMART program at NYUPoly has a relationship with the people at MakerBot. My summer research experience enabled me to part of a pilot program introducing 3D printing into the classroom.
This machine will allow my students to print solid objects that they create in a 3D modeling program such as Google SketchUp, 3dtin or TinkerCad. I believe children will find this process very exciting. Building in a virtual 3D space will make much more sense once the children hold a tangible object that they created.
Our first project will blend science, social studies, engineering, computer science and design. The children will be designing towns on a model river. The river table will teach the children about erosion and the composition of Earth’s surface. They will be researching different types of buildings by visiting various neighborhoods in NYC as part of the social studies curriculum. This will be the example for the children to design their own buildings using 3dtin.Some classes will be working with a civil engineer, Eduardo, to learn about site planning.
I must get some rest now. I will be introducing the MakerBot to my students tomorrow. I am very excited to see their reaction. Have a wonderful rest of the week.