jewelry display

Last summer's 3D printing adventures

Teaching never stops. Pioneer Christopher Sweeney writes about last summer and his 3D printing teaching adventures.

Last summer I had the opportunity to teach 3D printing in three different locations in the Philadelphia tri-state area, as well as join a local makerspace. I taught in both Pennsylvania, and Delaware, with both younger students, teachers, and graduate students. Although it was a lot for me to be working in the summer, it was very rewarding and a great learning experience. For me, testing out the printers and my lessons on the road with different sets of people helped develop my own skills and it was exciting to see what people created.

My first stop was working at Bucks County Community College in a program called Kids on Campus. In this program students could work with music, making rocket ships, robotics, and tons more awesome adventures. I ran a course called Makers Slam, which focused on 3D printing, but we also did projects with MakeyMakeys, Chibitronics, and some conductive drawings with my Drawdio. My campers got a chance to use software and several Ultimakers to create some awesome prints. They also learned how to use Tinkercad and Morphi, including all of Morphi’s drawing options. They also got a chance to use some exotic filaments like Colorfabbs’ Woodfill. The campers had a great time learning about 3D printing.




tinkercad house


minecraft inspired

The second part of my adventure was completely different. I went from working with K-8 students to teaching graduate students and educators who wanted to know more about 3D printing. This 3D printing course was at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia at the Professional Institute for Educators. This course coincided with Arts Week, which is a week long celebration at the university with guest speakers, field trips, and a final exhibit of all of the students’ work. In this course, we focused on developing skills to create models with TurtleArt, Morphi, Tinkercad, and Chimera. The objective was for these educators to take what they were learning and to pass it on to their students. My students created self-portrait models utilizing the Structure SDK Scanner, jewelry using TurtleArt and Morphi, and designs made out of exotic filaments from ColorFabb and ProtoPasta. The results after post-processing were stunning, and their exhibit of their hard work with the other students in this intense weeklong program was a testament to all that they learned and created.







While I was teaching at University of the Arts, I also had the chance to join my local makerspace, the Hacktory, located in West Philadelphia. While all of my Ultimakers were being used by my graduate and continuing education students,  I had the chance to use the Hacktorys’ Ultimaker 2, which had a new upgrade of a safety enclosure from Printed Solid that they had just received. Here, I not only got to work on my personal 3D printed designs, but also had the opportunity to try my hand at laser cutting, adding another element to the projects I had been working on, such as simple circuits and Drawdio enclosures for my Charter High School of Architecture and Design (CHAD) students that I would be seeing in September.

My last stop in my summer tour was at the Delaware Contemporary, where I had been invited to do my Maker’s Slam with a local YMCA summer camp. Here we got a chance to use Tinkercad and some exotic filaments to create personal objects that participants could wear and fashion for themselves, all the while getting to use 3D printers. The campers also got to use MakeyMakeys, Drawdios, and try out Ozobots. We also used the Cooper Hewitt Design Challenge format to create designs for people with disabilities, which was something I do with my own students back at CHAD. The experience was very rewarding and fun. So much so, that Jenn Pollilo, the Educational Director, wants us to continue the Maker’s Slam next summer with her Art Club.





As I said before, although it was a lot  of work for the summer, it was a great adventure, and I hope to do the same sessions this year and bring more exciting 3D printing projects to my summer students.