How 3D Printing is Inspiring Teachers

5 ways this new technology helps learning, understanding, and engagement.

GUEST COLUMN | by Petr Stastny

The benefits of 3D printing for students are well publicized but what about you, the teacher? How does 3D printing make teaching easier and more inspiring for you? Teaching can be incredibly rewarding but also challenging. Finding new ways to engage students and help them grasp and retain subject matter is no easy task. By providing a hands-on learning experience and much more student engagement, 3D printing can be rewarding to teachers through:

1. Higher exam scores

2. Higher college/university acceptance rates

3. Influencing the future through today’s children

4. Recognition for your school in providing technology to tomorrow’s achievers

5. Leaving a legacy

Let’s take a closer look at each of these.

Higher exam scores. There is little statistical evidence directly linking use of 3D printing to exam results. However, there are studies showing 3D printing improves the vital skills required to excel in STEAM subjects. In 2018, the University of Arkansas studied the effect of using 3D printing to improve spatial visualization of 6th graders. Students had to visualize the rotation of an object and were asked to complete questions with and without the aid of 3D printed blocks such as those shown below.

‘Inspiring students to not only pass but to excel in STEM subjects can inspire them to consider careers in areas that they might not otherwise have considered.’

Results from the study showed an improvement across all five schools when using the 3D printed blocks. The rate of improvement ranged from 7% to 16%. The research also provided evidence that students retained their new visualization skills and were able to complete the questions more successfully following the experiment, without the need of the blocks.

Higher college acceptance rates. We all know the importance of good grades in STEM subjects for college applications. It underpins everything; without good grades in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, extracurricular activities won’t be enough to get your students accepted. As we have already discussed here, 3D printing can help students develop vital skills to help them succeed in STEM subjects, improve their grades and their chances of being accepted into college.

Influencing the future. Idtech, a company that organizes student learning camps, discusses the importance of STEM subjects and looks at the success of students and also the impact on the wider landscape. To quote just two examples of the wider impact: reducing the 2.4 million vacancies in STEM jobs and increasing the number of women in these roles.

Inspiring students to not only pass but to excel in STEM subjects can inspire them to consider careers in areas that they might not otherwise have considered. And 3D printing plays a vital role. Using 3D printing encourages students to seek future careers in STEM sectors which benefits them as individuals but also benefits the economy and society.

Recognition for your school. Your school, recognized as a prestigious center of education with knowledgeable teachers, can result in greater funding. Being identified as an innovator and an early adopter of technology, such as 3D printing, helps your school stand head and shoulders above.

Leaving a legacy. A recent study by 3D Printing Industry reported that an unexpected outcome of teachers collaborating with technology was that “many teachers entered learning partnerships with students, and as a result, students came to see their teachers as models of lifelong learning”. Embracing technology, inspiring your students and helping them to succeed creates a long-term impact and your students will remember you long after they leave school.

3D printing is a powerful educational tool, but one size does not fit all. Education has specific 3D printing needs, so a solution designed for education is essential. Educators will have safety, security, cost and adoption concerns which all need to be addressed. In Education, one must consider the 3D printer itself, but also how to manage its use and the resources educators need to easily incorporate 3D printing into classroom lessons.

Petr Stastny is Senior Product Manager at Y soft 3D print solutions. He has helped hundreds of students and teachers better understand emerging technologies for learning and education. Write to: petr.stastny@ysoft.com 

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