It was an exciting morning as our Cornerstone third graders became our very first class to do a 3D printing project in our AT&T Classroom. As 3D printers become more affordable, schools are now able to explore the potential of this powerful technology to transform teaching and learning. As a classroom tool, 3D printers encourage students to be designers and creators and engage them in projects requiring a range of skills that draw from concepts in mathematics, literacy, physics, engineering and design while also encouraging important twenty-first century skills for creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration.
This morning in the AT&T Classroom the students were given a demonstration of the MakerBot Replicator Mini 3D printer and an overview of the 3D printing process beginning with the design work to the actual print production. Students also learned to use Makerbot Printshop to design their project for print production. Makerbot Printshop is a free and very easy-to-use tool for designing models for 3D printing. The tool offers templates for creating and customizing medallions, bracelets, rings, vases and 3D text models. There is also a Shape Maker tool that children can use to create a 3D model from their own hand-made drawing by capturing a photo of the drawing and importing the image into the tool. Children can also select from models designed by other builders in the tool’s Curated Collections and Digital Store. This morning each student used Makerbot Printshop to design their own unique model for printing.
In addition to Makerbot Printshop, there are a number of other free tools for designing 3D printing projects compatible for Chromebooks, Android or iOS tablets including Polar Cloud, Thingiverse, and ThinkMaker Design.