3D printing is a technological marvel that empowers people in many different ways. We’ve already talked about inspiring examples of numerous startups and individuals achieving success thanks to 3D Printing, and about how big businesses like Ford make use of 3D printing to great benefit for themselves, and we’ve seen how 3D printing gives us freedom to be creative in making gifts, but we’ve just began scratching the surface. How about the drastic changes to the better that 3D printers can bring about in education system?
Children are our future and the future of our children strongly depends on education system. It’s no secret that the current education system is lacking and needs some improving. In this article we’re going to talk about and give some examples of how this can be done with the help of 3D printing.
One of the biggest drawbacks of the current education system is that it aims at pumping students’ heads full of fragmented information with little regard for the motivation, the courses aiming at successful passing of artificial tests and not the depth of understanding or integrity of knowledge. It is well known that students make much better progress when they’re interested in the subject and are eager to know more about it. It’s all very well and pretty obvious, you’ll say, but how do we make them interested? One way would be to give students projects, tasks that they have to perform, goals they have to achieve. When a student gets direction, when he has a goal, he starts learning in a fundamentally more active and natural way: he finds himself facing questions he must find answers for, and with help of his supervisor, he is looking for the ways to go around whatever problems he faces. In this mode he learns actively, knowing that he needs the knowledge as opposed to being pumped with the data one doesn’t feel like he really needs. There are countless examples of creative teachers organizing various projects to boost students’ interest in this or that subject, and thanks to 3D printing opportunities of those people have grown drastically. 3D printing helps teachers to organize the learning process in a more engaging way, and here’s a great example: the video below tells us how Vinny Garrison made mechanics and physics much more interesting, understandable and engaging for his class of 8th graders by organizing drag racing competitions, where every student designs and prints his own car and then races it against the clock and against other students’ cars. It really motivates students to be active and creative in designing a car that would be lighter and faster than other cars and children get to feel the laws of physics (lighter means faster and so on) in action.
Practice is the only way to learn, really, it’s how we’re made. And with 3D printers students are able to see the process for themselves, feel that it’s real, receive feedback by seeing the results. They are motivated to correct their designs, learn and develop.
An old proverb says: It’s better to see once than to hear a hundred times. Different people perceive material in different ways, and just as it is more natural to absorb information by seeing something with your own eyes rather than reading about it in textbooks or listening to a lecture, it is even more helpful when you can actually see the real thing, to interact with it, to test it and see the results, to touch it, play with it and hold it in your hands. It lets students understand that what they’re studying is about the real world and not just some abstract information they’ve got to fill their head with (at least for a time) in order to get a good mark or to please parents. See this video about how 3D printing is used Brooklyn Tech, the largest specialized STEM high school, to teach students core engineering skills:
Lastly, working with a 3D printer inspires students and arouses their interest for technologies and education in general. Now children who have access to this new technology can actually crate something new, experiment. Quite a few schools and universities have already started using 3D printers and the practice shows that it helps making students much more interested and involved in educational process.
A video about students from the Pratt Institute Scholl of Architecture who designed an interesting concept of a resort nestled in an artificial iceberg with the help of a 3D printer:
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this. If you have any questions, suggestions or comments, let me know in the comments section.