3D Printing

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

As I read about 3D printing this week, I found myself thinking of the similarities to other emerging technologies we’ve discussed recently, especially in the attitude it promotes and the use as another way for students to display their creativity. 3D printing has the possibility of instilling a problem solving mindset and the idea that failure is ok. They have the possibility of teaching students to solve problems and learn how to improve upon failed prototypes. It can teach them to persist despite adversity. 3D printing gives students yet another way to express their creativity and prepares them for the future. Because it’s interactive, it also captures the students’ interests (LeapFrog; .

As I read 24 useful things you can make with a 3D printer, I thought about how 3D printing could be another avenue for students to exercise their problem solving capabilities. You could pose a question to the group and they could create a 3D printable prototype to solve the problem. As is mentioned on the LeapFrog 3D printers site, their prototype might not work the first them, and they will learn to problem solve again, until they have the solution they are looking for.  3D printing can also allow students to handle fragile artifacts that they might not get to explore otherwise (Nicholls, 2013).

I feel like the biggest possibility to change the way we think about education isn’t specific to just 3D printing, and lies in the implementation and environment in which it is introduced.  Christine Mytco is cited in the Schaffhauser (2013) article and has learned to replace control with setting boundaries. Now she tells her students, “Let’s talk about something purposeful in your life that you’d like to design.” Giving students some control and choice in their education leads to an increase in motivation. Not only that, but students see a real life application for their learning.   With measurement for example, they aren’t learning it because the teacher deems it important, they are choosing to learn because their project requires it and they want to (Schaffhauser, 2013). Overall 3D printing has the possibility to take teachers out of the center of the classroom and put student interests and needs there instead. Students may have more schema on 3D printing or the skills needed to create a prototype than the teacher does, so it also holds the possibility to have teachers step back and allow students to ask and answer questions of each other. A teacher must be ok with saying, “I’m not sure. Does anyone else know the answer?” or “Let’s ask Google!”



24 Useful things to make with a 3D printer. http://www.businessinsider.com/useful-3d-printer-projects-2015-2

LeapFrog 3D Printers. http://www.lpfrg.com/en/professionals/education/

Nicholls, Dale. (2013, Oct 23). Why have 3D printers in the classroom? Retrieved from: http://3dprintingsystems.com/why-have-3d-printers-in-the-classroom/

3D Printers in the Classroom: 7 Reasons Why Every School Should Have a 3D Printer (2013, Feb 27). http://airwolf3d.com/2013/02/27/school-3d-printers-in-the-classroom/

Federico-O’Murchu (2014, May 11). How 3_D printing with change the world. Retreived from: http://www.cnbc.com/2014/05/09/will-3-d-technology-radically-change-the-world.html


8 thoughts on “3D Printing

  1. gkkapatak01 says:

    I like the advice that you gave in your blog about asking students what means a lot to them that they would like to build. Students like it when they are given options and a say in what they want to create. They feel more motivated and responsible in their own learning. I also liked that you mentioned that “3D printing has the possibility of instilling a problem solving mindset and the idea that failure is ok. They have the possibility of teaching students to solve problems and learn how to improve upon failed prototypes.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • akreadingteacher says:

      In one of my Reading classes, I researched the power of choice on student motivation, and there’s definitely a correlation! I think we can choices within boundaries, and still see an increased motivation. How awesome would it be to be able to offer students all these great emerging technologies that we’ve covered as options during a Genius Hour setting….Could be pretty powerful I think!


  2. ruralakteacher says:

    I have seen many posts that write about failure being a useful tool for students to learn from and improve upon and I agree 100%. Children cannot go through life expecting everything to go their way even half of the time. If we expect to have strong leaders, they need to learn from their mistakes and keep plugging away, even at the most trivial task, in order for it to succeed. They should view all things as learning experiences. I like that 3D printing has a quick turn around for seeing if a particular design has a flaw. They can go back through it, improve the design and add that into their growing bank of experience. Great post!


    • akreadingteacher says:

      It is such a valuable skill for some students to learn. I think some people naturally have that tendency, but there’s always a few students that just want to give up with the going gets tough. How awesome would it be for them to learn this attitude!


  3. triciaturley05 says:

    I feel like the environment that you’re talking about is an environment that can exist without 3D printers, as well as with 3D printers. A classroom where the teachers invites students to study about topics that are especially interesting to them is a student-centered classroom. A 3D printer is just another tool to aid students in their pursuit of knowledge.


    • akreadingteacher says:

      absolutely! I LOVE that you pointed this out. You said it so well, thank you. This is exactly what I was beginning to think about as I was researching 3D printers. We can offer teh students many tools and ways to gain their knowledge and pursue their interests, but it’s all in the environment we set up.


  4. Kodiak Reading Teacher says:

    I also had the same thoughts this week about the use of 3D printing in the classroom. I’m beginning to see emerging trends in the emerging technology ;-). Perhaps what we are looking at is not the end product itself but the means to the end of the product. Learning is more about the process, the approximation and the ability to transfer the process of learning across many aspects of life than it is about the actual learned thing. As a nation and as a teachers we are becoming more and more aware of this process. What an exciting time to be a part of this!

    Liked by 1 person

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