3D printing in education for inspirational learning

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  • Written by Iris Smeekes
    Sep 16, 2015

More and more, 3D printing is being used in education as a tool to teach people at all levels of learning. Teachers use 3D objects to help primary school kids grasp concepts, refine students' creative skills in high school and help them learn technical subjects at university. At that stage they’re often using them for prototyping projects – a shift to a more professional use of the Ultimaker almost identical to its use in companies in the real world.

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From primary school to university

To give you an idea just how much Ultimakers are being embraced by education we’d like to show you the stories of two schools; one in the Netherlands and one in the United Kingdom. You’ll see just how much Ultimakers are becoming an integral part of the learning process across many subjects.

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Primary school Het Slingertouw

We start at primary school Het Slingertouw in the Netherlands, where Robin Platjouw created a makerspace for the children. Because the Ultimaker Original+ comes as a DIY package, students really engaged with the printer itself. With such a hands-on experience of building it themselves, they gained an innate understanding of how it works. This also connected them to it at an emotional level – it wasn’t just the school’s printer, it was theirs, they built it, piece by piece, screw by screw.

Together with the children we built these printers, which for us was an essential part of the process. One of the purposes of the lab is for the children to learn that it takes a lot of technology, effort and hard work to put a device like this together. – Robin Platjouw, teacher

As the school teacher explains, engaging the children with 3D printing not only brings them into contact with cutting-edge technology, it prepares them for future jobs, as they learn many transferable skills along the way. And finally, their teacher made a very valid point – by bringing them into contact with open source products, they learn how important open source thinking is to innovation.

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Students building the Ultimaker Original+

What it teaches the students is not to be afraid of making mistakes. By physically printing them it allows them to test and then improve upon their design. – Rob Jones, teacher
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Next we visit Cowley International College in St. Helens, England where Advanced Skills Teacher Rob Jones uses 3D printing to teach his high school students. Because Ultimaker is open-source, students are able to play around and try all sorts of different things with the printers. This allows them to experience for themselves what works, and what doesn’t. It gives them the freedom to think creatively and without restraint.

What’s even more impressive is that Ultimakers are being used across the curriculum, with the school investing a lot of resources into their use. Now opportunities exist for their use within computer science, design technology, art, science, engineering and mathematics. A very forward thinking school in our eyes.

Our younger students are interested in it from the age of 11 right through to 18. It interests students with mathematical skills, scientific skills, but also creative skills, of all ages and of all genders. – Rob Jones, teacher
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With all this learning going on, you might think that kids would get bored of the 3D printers. Far from it. With the addition of tangible 3D printed objects to the academic mix they’re actively engaging in the lessons and having fun along the way!

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