ISTE 2017

Recap: ISTE 2017, San Antonio, Texas

Last week, over 15,000 educators from the United States and 72 other countries congregated in San Antonio, Texas, for the 2017 ISTE Conference & Expo. For thirty years this annual event, considered by many to be the most extensive educational technology conference in the world, has been a mainstay for educators and educational institutions exploring new technology, tools, and ideas to enrich and inspire students in a range of educational contexts.

ISTE Ultimaker Matterhackers Booth
Ultimaker booth
ISTE tickets
Educator tickets

Ultimaker participated at ISTE within a number of booths this year. We shared booth #533 with Ultimaker sales partner MatterHackers. Our machines were also on display at the booth for sales partner Accucode, and as the featured professional desktop 3D printer in the SketchUp booth.

Ultimaker Printers in SketchUp ISTE 2017 Booth
Ultimaker machines featured in SketchUp Booth at ISTE 2017

Ultimaker Pioneer Program presentations at ISTE

As a special contribution this year, Ultimaker Community Education Strategist Liz Arum curated in-depth educator talks for the Ultimaker Pioneer Program presentation series held at booth #533. Featuring dynamic educators from the Pioneer Program’s ranks and beyond, including:

  • Rich Lehrer (Innovation Coordinator, Brookwood School)
  • Sophia Georgiou (CEO of Morphi)
  • Tim Needles (Smithtown High School East)
  • Karen Blumberg (Technology Coordinator, The Brearley School)
  • Josh Ajima (DesignMakeTeach, Technology Resource Teacher, Loudoun County Public Schools)
  • Solomon Menashi (Co-founder, BlocksCAD)
  • John Helfen (Technical Product Manager - Tinkercad Platform, Autodesk)

These presenters offered ISTE attendees an in-depth view of how desktop 3D printing might play a critical role in their classrooms. Liz says,

We were excited to invite some of our Pioneers to ISTE, as attendees are always looking for ideas that they can bring back to their classrooms. Ultimaker’s goal was to give educators valuable content to use with their students, and not just explain how to use the printer.
Josh Ajima Ultimaker Pioneer
Josh Ajima presenting as a part of the Ultimaker Pioneer Program presentation series at ISTE

Ultimaker Pioneers and allies, like the ones featured below, enjoyed sharing their own experiences and knowledge with like-minded educators.

Pioneer presenter Karen Blumberg, The Brearley School

“My role is to help educator integrate technology academically, creatively, and responsibly,” explained Pioneer Karen Blumberg. She went on to walk visitors through a project she created recently with Mandarin teachers at her school to produce Xingming Yin, or personal name seals, which is a project inspired by seeing 3D-printed letterpress projects at Construct3D 2017.

Karen Blumberg Ultimaker Pioneer
Karen Blumberg talking with ISTE attendees

An element that excited her most about this project was that the teachers she created this project for were able to experience this as truly a legacy Mandarin project, and not see 3D printing as a separate activity. “The teachers learned all the tricks from using Tinkercad, to printing the stamps, to troubleshooting the printer.”

Josh Ajima, DesignMakeTeach, Loudoun County Public Schools

“3D printing is hot, but it is about what you do what the printer, what you do in the classroom that matters,” shared Josh Ajima, known online as 'DesignMakeTeach.' He gave a presentation on “Hidden History” that featured a number of concrete examples for how the schools he serves are using 3D printing in the social sciences to address issues of under-representation in culture and history.

Josh Ajima DesignMakeTeach
Josh Ajima with his “Hidden History” Lithophane 3D print

Josh's projects that struck the imagination of attending educators included one in which students research and design a historical marker for their community, and another that encourages the design of mystery artifacts to address history and culture—which fellow students can then investigate to learn more.

Nationally-recognized art teacher, Tim Needles, Smithtown High School East

Tim Needles shared a few projects he has done with students in art classes to jump from basic, bold black drawings of their designs right into printable STLs using Morphi. “I always find that when you are teaching students, the best thing is to get their hands dirty right away. The nice thing about this kind of approach is that it gets students right into 3D printing, even if they might not yet know the details. Kids want to experience the process immediately, so the benefit is that you actually have a 3D print in a couple of minutes. We do a couple of prints that first day, and then we go back into 3D printing to talk through the details about how it actually works.”

Tim Needles
Nationally-recognized Art teacher, Tim Needles

He also presented projects taking the opposite approach — using the 3D printed object at the end of a process of class investigation to capture the spirit of a subject, and provide a reminder after the experience back in the classroom. “I have students learn about an artist and then actually create a 3D print based on that artist. Having the printed piece allows students to actually physically play with the art itself. And we print out large versions to keep in the classroom to remind everyone of what happened.”

John Helfen of Autodesk

Autodesk’s John Helfen demonstrated Tinkercad, highlighting Tinkercad’s new electronics integration, which launched the week before ISTE.

John Helfen Autodesk
John Helfen introducing audiences to new features in Tinkercad for educators

“We now have in our bag of tricks circuit assemblies that you can now use to allow your 3D models to glow and move. The idea is that we are introducing simple circuits that work, that students can design around, that combine 3D printing and electronics," John said as part of his ISTE presentation. "In the real world, that’s how things get built—so we are trying to introduce those concepts early so that as the students graduate from Tinkercad to Fusion 360 down the road, they have the knowledge they need to take this into their career or into their university work.”

Solomon Menashi, Co-founder of BlocksCAD

“BlocksCAD was designed by teachers to help educators who wanted to do more teaching with their 3D printers and with the equipment in the classroom,” shared Solomon Menashi, co-founder of BlocksCAD. “And it also helps with math visualization, computational thinking, and applied math concepts.” He guided the attendees of the talk through an onboarding tutorial that educators have found helpful to engage their students in the opportunity to use code and computational thinking to produce 3D printable STL files.

Solomon Menashi Blockscad
BlocksCAD presentation at booth at ISTE 2017

He also went on to show that beneath the handy visual GUI elements that have made their program popular among educators, BlocksCAD produces valid OpenSCAD code for further exploration: “If you are interested in text-based coding, all of the blocks in BlocksCAD relate to the OpenSCAD language. By hitting this code tab, you can actually see the OpenSCAD code for your project — and you can take this code and edit it in OpenSCAD as well.”

Pioneer Rich Lehrer

Rich Lehrer encouraged educators to think about how 3D printing can have a profound effect on people. He discussed the ways his students participate in authentic problem solving as an example of how educators can inspire their own students.  

Rich Lehrer
Rich Lehrer talking about using design to solve problems

His students started by printing out and assembling prosthetic hands, but now are designing clips that can be attached to the prosthetics and are using design to solve problems that adults at their school have and collaborated with seniors from a local residence. Rich also pitched the idea of a Global Problem Bank, connecting students worldwide to solve problems through design and 3D printing.

With over 500 exhibiting companies and over 600 student presenters, ISTE 2017 undoubtedly left an impression on the educational community. We're excited to see what's in store for ISTE 2018!

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