Feb 1, 2017
Education is a vital aspect of any government strategy. By shaping the young minds of today, we inspire the innovators of the future, who will drive the country’s progress. The Ministry of Education and Employment in Malta believe passionately in the power of education, which is why they’ve invested in technology to help their students develop key skills for the future.
Winning the tender
As part of their strategy to support STEM learning in schools, Malta’s Ministry of Education and Employment made the decision to invest in 3D printers in public technical schools across the country. In collaboration with the EU, the government held a tender to find the best 3D printing manufacturer to provide machines to their educational establishments.
We are delighted to announce that Ultimaker won the tender and have now supplied 80 3D printers to schools across Malta. James Catania, the National Education Officer for Computing & ICT (Ministry of Education and Employment in Malta) comments: “For us, the introduction of 3D printing on a national scale is the next logical step when it comes to STEM subjects and science education.” He adds: “We find Ultimaker a good educational partner because they provide a very solid solution, which is user-friendly and adapts itself easily to a classroom environment.”
Ultimaker not only gave schools the necessary hardware, software, and materials but also the right level of support to get them started. Our local partners offered comprehensive training to all teachers and technicians, to ensure students could get the most from the technology.
The importance of training
Ultimaker’s local supplier, Forestals, offered professional training sessions to educators throughout Malta. The training was an integral part of the deployment of 3D printers into the educational establishment and was designed to provide ‘hands on’ experience of setting up and using their 3D printers. All the training took place on Ultimaker 2 3D printers, which were identical to the models being used in the classrooms.
Gordon Dimech, the COO of Forestals, says: “We recognize that with any new technology, we need to support the community with training and support, and it is our intention to continue to develop our programs to facilitate and encourage people to use 3D printing in line with the education curriculum. We are also committed to provide support to local businesses who wish to use this technology to enhance their design or manufacturing processes.”
Having a 3D printer in the classroom offers a number of key benefits. Students are able to visualize things far more easily, something that’s not always achievable through 2D drawings alone. They can not only develop knowledge about 3D printing but explore home manufacturing and the additive processes. They can also build functional prototypes and solve real-life problems.
Teachers can use 3D printing to augment their lessons and breathe life into key educational concepts. Even complex designs can be created with a 3D printer, offering students an unparalleled level of creative, innovative freedom.
Collaboration in action
In Malta, robotics is an integral part of the technology curriculum – and Ultimaker plays an important role in helping teachers explore this subject fully. By having a 3D printer in the classroom, a ‘mini-factory’ is created, which lets students print 3D print custom parts, and create original, exciting robotics designs.
One example of this in action was the BB-8 Droid project, an ambitious educational event which involved creating a 1:1 copy of the Star Wars character. This collaboration not only involved the students, teachers and their Ultimaker printers, but also teachers from other schools nearby.
The STL files were split between the teachers, who each went on to print a section of the project (500 hours of printing in total) on their Ultimaker 2 3D printers. All 35+ parts were printed with different PLA, but all had the same quality and fitted together perfectly. Aside from the inevitable ‘wow’ effect of the final results, students were shown what can be created with 3D printing technology – and what you can achieve with commitment and hard work.
Without an Ultimaker printer, this wouldn’t have been possible.
Keith Galea, the National Education Officer for Design and Technology (Ministry of Education and Employment in Malta), says:
Technical education at Malta has been developing throughout the last 15 years in order to empower students rather than inspire, to help them create ideas and gain confidence in their designs. The whole approach of the Ministry of Education in Malta was to present a combined technological availability in schools and sufficient equipment and results, quality of teaching and learning, and to develop skills necessary for their future careers.
The use of Ultimaker 3D printers in the classroom goes beyond merely creating aesthetically appealing objects. It gives students the opportunity to make something inventive, practical and creative. Through multiple iterations, they can experiment with design and develop solutions for real-life problems. Additionally, teachers can use 3D printed models as a powerful learning aid – demonstrating even complex concepts in a visually stimulating, easy-to-understand format.
Malta is one of the first countries in the world to use 3D printing in the classroom on such a large-scale. Ultimaker’s collaboration, in combination with the co-funding of the EU, takes Malta’s educational system even further, with unlimited scope for the future.
3D printing in education
Here at Ultimaker, we believe education is integral to progression, which is why we place such importance on its role in 3D printing. A 3D printer in the classroom opens up a wealth of opportunities for students of all ages, fostering technological know-how, problem-solving skills, and creativity. To find out more about 3D printing and how it can be implemented in your classroom, join our Education Forum or visit our Explore pages.