Last week we conducted a workshop for educators on 3D printing in the Indianapolis public library. They have a space that was perfect for working with twenty educators. Several 3D printers were provided by 3D Parts Mfg., and Norma and I were the workshop leaders.
We started with a big challenge that put the participants in the deep end of the pool. (I’m not sharing the task since some of you may be in one of our upcoming workshops and I don’t want you to get a head-start!) The point is that the participants saw cross-curricular connections to this activity. This is important because teachers, in general, want to see how any new thing connects to the curriculum they are responible for. One of the nice characteristics of 3D printing is that virtually any activity cuts across all the STEM subjects, and many can even be connected to other subject areas – including fine arts, history, and others. From our perspective, the critical element was having the participants see themselves as designers. Toward that end, we made sure they had access to several 3D design tools rather than just focusing on a single tool like Tinkercad, for example. The fact is that some kinds of designs are easier in some tools than in others, and the more choices teachers and students have, the more likely they will be to create incredible designs. Some teachers felt that recipes for projects were appropriate, and they did projects from our book The Invent to Learn Guide to 3D Printing in the Classroom, since these projects are already in recipe form. We had plenty of assistance from Kim Brand and his colleagues at 3D Parts Mfg. They provided the printers we used, and handled all the logistics so all Norma and I had to do was show up with our handput packages for everyone. Since that workshop we have been contacted to conduct more workshops around the country. The 3D printing revolution is ready for prime time!