3D Printing in Education

3D printing in education is unique compared to other technologies. The mindset of the student becomes one where it is okay to fail and encourages experimentation in their learning.3D Printing empowers students to embrace innovative technology and allows them to reach new levels of thinking.

Students interacting with 3D at an earlier age will open doors to get them interested in engineering and thinking out of the box so to speak.

3D printing gives students the unlimited ability to design, test and engineer with hands on exposure to additive manufacturing and gives them an advantage at the dawn of the next revolution in digital manufacturing. Nearly every subject has a potential engagement. From STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Physics, Design, Art, Law, Ethics, Psychology and Anthropology as well as several other fields in which 3D Printers offer the ability to create solid physical models could be used to develop “discipline-specific courses” for further education and a future in the next revolution of manufacturing.

As we have understood 3D Printing is all about creativity and being able to design and model stuff and then being able to print it to have a hands on approach , which is also true in education . The spatial abilities and creative spark in the student is ignited . The modelling and simulation activities would provide students an appreciation of how science operates in the real world, and an opportunity to create ‘what-if’ type scenarios to encourage curiosity and innovative thinking.

Modelling and simulations also provide students a platform from which they can explore and discover through both guided and unguided exercises. Sometimes referred to as inquiry learning, this process allows students to explore concepts at their own pace, conduct ‘what-if’ scenarios, and engage with the Educator / Instructor / Teacher as a facilitator of learning, as opposed to the current uniform view of teaching , where the teacher is the owner of knowledge and the students ‘empty vessels’.

3D Printer

In a sense, the acquisition of a 3D printer is a logical extension of the modelling and simulation activity, producing a tangible representation of virtual objects created in the cyber world, that students could manipulate and ‘play’ with.

Inquiry-based learning “involves a process of exploring the natural or material world … that leads to asking questions, making discoveries, and rigorously testing those discoveries in the search for new understanding” … “The inquiry process is driven by one’s own curiosity, wonder, interest, or passion to understand an observation or solve a problem” (National Science Foundation, 2000). Hildebrand (1998) talks of ‘affective’ instruction, making science enjoyable, relevant and something students can understand.

In addition to supporting the science curriculum objectives, student familiarity with 3D printing and manufacturing concepts will help prepare them for a future where similar technologies will be increasingly commonplace, across a variety of contexts including engineering, medicine and art. (Department for Education, 2013)

In addition to the obvious educational benefits derived from effective [lifelike] simulations they “capture learners’ imaginations and play a critical motivational role to keep them deeply engaged in problem solving” (Lester, Stone, & Stelling, 1999).

Simulations encourage cognitive processes, enabling students to manipulate the parameters to test hypotheses and testing out 'what if' scenarios without fear of real adverse consequences or harm. These tools can also address student held misconceptions by offering “opportunities for expressing, evaluating and revising their developing ideas as they visualize the consequences of their own reasoning” (Hennessy, et al., 2007, p. 138).

This initiative is primarily concerned with constructivism through inquiry-based learning, emphasising the role of the student in building understanding and making sense of information (March, 2010)

“ Combine students limitless potential with 3D printing and the result is a powerful combination or You can let them discover it for themselves. ”
-- Dr Gilbert Price (2014)


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