It’s Star Wars in our classrooms with the arrival of replicators—3D printers. The “printers” work by reading designs developed by students using 3D software and then producing the designs through a layering process with an extruded plastic material. According to Worcester Prep (Maryland) science teacher, Colleen McGuire, “Some of my students are excited to ‘print out’ their own robotic designs without being constrained by the shape of Legos. Others are seeing the creative design potential to produce personalized products from jewelry to architecture. What we are doing gives our students a glimpse into the world that will be their lives.”
At the Southview Middle School (Minnesota), eighth graders are designing and “printing” better cup holders for automobiles. Teacher Peter Grimm says that the addition of the 3D printer has motivated more students to experience the engineering lab. Grimm explains that the printer adds excitement to learning because it brings “designs that existed only in students’ minds to life.”
Just think of what 3D printers can do now and what will be possible with this technology in the future.