Georgia Connections Academy

Building a mobile maker space: part 2—up and rolling

  • Secondary education
  • Technology

Last week we covered how pioneer Wendy Aracich received a grant to set up the Mobile MakerSpace at Georgia Connections Academy, a virtual charter school in Georgia. This week, she shares her story about purchasing equipment and training teachers.

So what exactly does a Mobile MakerSpace look like?  That's the question I had to ask myself once I began the project of bringing 3D printing technology to virtual students.  When we started this project, we knew we needed something that would be easy to transport and we also wanted a variety of printers that could be used by students and teachers of all levels.  We also knew we would need a way to store and transport the equipment.

Our original printer was a MakerBot Replicator 5, which we won back in 2015.  We've been using this printer for all of our school projects so far, and I have even traveled with it to area conferences to demonstrate what our school has been doing with the program.  While the MakerBot can be buggy at times, it has served us well over the past few years and is fairly easy to transport. To expand our MakerSpace, we purchased four MP Select Mini V2 3D printers. I love MP Mini because it’s easy to use and I have found it to be less intimidating for beginners.  Plus, the small size makes it perfect for transport.  While the MP Minis are great, I also wanted to have a printer that could accommodate larger and more complex projects.  For this, we purchased an Ultimaker 2+.

The Ultimaker 2+ is reserved for our more advanced students and will not travel as much as the smaller printers. Teachers will also be able to use the Ultimaker 2+ to print classroom aids and manipulatives. In addition to the printers, we purchased filament in every color of the rainbow, as well as five 3D pens, which will be used for smaller projects as well as with our younger students.

mobile makerspace 3
Georgia Connections Academy students recently took the Mobile MakerSpace on the road to the Georgia Educational Technology Conference, where they demonstrated for educators how we use 3D printing in a virtual high school.

To make our equipment truly mobile, we purchased two sets of rolling storage containers — specifically, the Remington 2-Piece Heavy Duty Rolling Storage Trunk Set, which I found on Amazon.  (The price is currently $115 for a set of two, but I have found that the price tends to fluctuate a lot; I was able to get ours for $58 for the pair.)  These storage containers are large enough that we can fit at least two printers along with spools of filament in each bin. We use saved styrofoam packing materials to pack everything in securely for transportation. I have also built binders that go in each bin, which contain manuals for the printers, including easy visual guides, and lesson resources.  

Once our equipment purchases were made, we had to start thinking about how we would implement and utilize the Mobile MakerSpace. A big goal of this project was to get teachers from all subject areas involved, because so far, I have been the only teacher to utilize 3D printing in our curriculum. I have found that many of our teachers were receptive to 3D printing, but just did not know where to start or how to incorporate it into their classes.

mobile makerspace 2
Containers can fit up to 3 small printers or one larger printer, along with filament rolls and supplies. Foam soundproofing material is added to the containers to ensure everything is packed in tight and securely for transport.

I began by offering training to our teachers that allows them to become “3D Printing Certified.” Once they earn this designation, they are able to check-out the printers for use in lessons. During the training, we talk about ideas and ways that printing can be utilized, and each teacher gets to load and unload filament and print a small model to help them get more comfortable with the 3D printing process. Once a teacher completes the initial certification training, I meet with them individually to discuss ideas and planning specific to their subject area. Once a teacher is ready to use the equipment, they are able to take the printers on the road to an in-person workshop (called “G-labs” at our school), or use the printers in live video lessons that students can access virtually. I was encouraged that the entire Science department and about half of the English department signed up right away to be trained. Teachers are currently working on ways to build 3D printing into their lessons, and I can already see the shift to more project-based learning occurring as a result.

Recently, we started a 3D Printing Innovator’s Club as a way to get student feedback on ideas and to pilot some of our projects with this smaller group. Currently, we have science students working on 3D modeled molecules, graphic design students converting logos designed in Inkscape into 3D models, and photography students using a 3D printed character to create a unique and collaborative photography series.

I am encouraged by the progress we have made so far, but there are still many details we are working to figure out.

  • How do we prioritize which teachers get to check out the equipment?

  • Do we limit how long a teacher gets to keep a printer or how many printers they can check out at a time?

  • How best do we manage student print jobs?

  • How do we encourage more teachers to use the MakerSpace?

  • How can we showcase student designs so they can be seen by the whole school?

These are things we are still working out, but our hope is that over the two-year implementation phase of this project, we will develop a solid process for managing and operating a MakerSpace that is truly mobile. Stay tuned!

Read more education blogs

  • College of the Desert 3D printing club

    Feel the Action: Learn about how a college is changing lives in ways we can touch!

    A 3D printing club emerges at College of the Dessert to help make ideas accessible to all students

    Testing Quadcopter

    How the tools we use influence the designs we make

    Michael Delaney writes about his iterative process of integrating electronics and 3D printing in his programmable quadcopter project.

    Ultimaker Met

    Bringing 3D printing to the Metropolitan Museum of Art

    Part of the mission from Ultimaker North America's Community team is to help educators get up and running with 3D printing and to help them find meaningful ways to integrate the technology into their curriculum while celebrating their successes. When we w

  • Smithsonian Learning Lab

    3D printing as part of the Smithsonian Learning Lab

    Pioneer Christopher Sweeney shares the work he did with 3D printing and the Smithsonian Learning Lab to create collections of educational resources, organized and structured for teaching and learning.

    Harvard calculus courses use 3D printed models to engage students

    Harvard calculus courses use 3D printed models to engage students

    What is the best way to teach concepts like surface area and volume relating to mathematical objects in a three-dimensional world? The curricular design team at Harvard University thinks the...

    Mathematica Tea Light Holder

    3D Design in Mathematica: Tea Light Holders

    If it’s happening in Ultimaker’s world, you can find out about it here. 3D printing stories about inspiring moments, original 3D printed projects and much much more.

  • Code your 3D designs with Tinkercad’s new Codeblocks app

    Code your 3D designs with Tinkercad’s new Codeblocks app

    Tinkercad released Codeblocks last June, and now that it's out of Beta, Pioneer Rob Morrill tells us how he uses it.

    printingUltibot

    Modifying an STL with Tinkercad

    When Ultimaker Pioneer Alex Larson contacted me about the Ultibot-D project, I was super excited. As a teacher and parent, I am a huge cheerleader for risk. I printed the base models at ⅕ scale and gave it to my students to explore

    Ultimaker at Camp

    Math Camp: Having fun doing stuff

    Pioneer Dr Toni Szymanski writes about summer fun at camp with 4th and 5th graders, math, and 3D printing.

  • 3D printing for glass

    GlitchCraft

    Guest blogger Astrida Valigorsky writes about combining the old and the new at Timothy Belliveau's GlitchCraft class where students combined 3D printing and glass blowing.

    basecampProject

    Using Basecamp to manage your classroom/makerspace projects and print queue

    Pioneer Andrew Woodbridge uses Basecamp to organize his students' projects, and he explains how you can too.

    3D printing in math and chemistry

    A unique 3D printing collaboration between mathematics and chemistry faculty

    Passing it on. After integrating 3D printing into her own math courses, Kristen Schreck helps spread 3D printing across disciplines at Saint Xavier University.

  • World monument project

    Living world monuments assignment

    Pioneer Joanne Barrett shares about a middle school project that combines 3D printing, Augmented Reality, History, and Art.

    parts in cura (1)

    My reintroduction to Netfabb

    A recent NetFabb workshop convinced the writer that they can't live without this application. See why it's time to take another look at Netfabb.

    hero wrenchs

    Wrench Engineering

    Inspired by NASA printed in space wrench, Pioneer Rob Morrill gave his fifth graders a design challenge to design their own real-world tool.

  • goblet project

    Integrating 3D printing and The Goblet Project

    Pioneer Chris Hanusa shares one way he integrated 3D printing into his Integral Calculus class

    Finland’s mobile libraries

    3D printers in the public library: Finland ahead of the curve

    US Professor Joshua Pearce, sponsored by Fulbright Finland for Research, shares his first impressions of Finnish libraries.

    Happiness

    Lessons in letting go - releasing student energy speeds creation and use of our art and innovation lab

    Pioneer John Nordell enlisted his students to put the Art and Innovation Lab together. The result was one of the best experiences he has had as an educator.

  • toni teaching fusion

    Teacher training for 3D printing

    Pioneer Dr. Toni Szymanski thought that 3D printing could engage students in math classes. To test this out, she had to learn all about 3D printing first.

    ceramic stamps

    Digital fabrication informs ceramics decorative process

    Pioneer Young Kim blends his classical arts background with digital fabrication to create a ceramic project that incorporates 3D printing.

    buckeyball

    Modeling rocks at iCREATE

    iCREATE's Tiffany Huang shared an iCREATE success story about Jackie Zheng.

  • Empathy map

    Elementary-College Engineering Design partnership

    Pioneer Matthew Wigdahl writes about how his fifth graders and local undergraduate engineering students learn from each other.

    014-SchoolHero

    Introducing Ultimaker’s Core Lessons Set for STEAM Educators

    Designed by the Ultimaker North America Community Team, our new Core Lessons: STEAM Set is a resource for educators who need inspiration and ideas when they bring 3D printing into their classrooms.

    MakerGirl

    Empower one MakerGirl, empower the world

    how the group traveled 10,000 miles around the country to help bring 3D printing workshops to over 1,000 young girls. In this week's post we catch up with the organization that is still working to create a new generation of confident, creative women leade

  • Georgia Connections Academy

    Building a mobile maker space: part 2—up and rolling

    So what exactly does a Mobile MakerSpace look like? That's the question I had to ask myself once I began the project of bringing 3D printing technology to virtual students. When we started this project, we knew we needed something that would be easy to

    Building a mobile makerspace: part 1— getting started

    Building a mobile makerspace: part 1— getting started

    Pioneer Wendy Aracich is putting together and implementing a mobile MakerSpace for her virtual school of 4000 students spread across the state of Georgia.

    LibraryLyna

    Tactile Problem/Solution Bank Community Project

    3D modeling and printing should be accessible of every educator so that they may offer their students tactile means to understand spatial concepts.

  • Design Engine Box

    Design Engine community project

    We want to challenge educators and students to help evolve the Design Engine game. We want to see how you're using or modifying the game with your students, and we want to incorporate your ideas into the next edition.

    coca cola upcycle

    Upcycling community project

    Upcycling challenges students and educators to use their creativity and 3D printing skills to breathe new life into a few familiar objects.

    pecha-kuchas

    Construct3D to Kamehameha Ed Tech Conference

    Last year Pioneer Greg Kent traveled from Hawaii to North Carolina to attend Construct3D 2017. We thought we'd share his reflections with you now since we recently announced Construct3D 2018

  • Plastic Ocean by Kevin Krejci

    Ocean Plastic Community Project

    The Ultimaker Community Team will be launching a series of interdisciplinary projects over the next few months that challenge students to research, explore, design, and 3D print. Ocean Plastic is the first project of this series.

    fractal2

    3D printed fractals at JMU 3SPACE

    Pioneer Professor Laura Taalman, (a.k.a. mathgrrl), reviews a multi-week study of fractals by general education math students in the JMU 3D printing classroom.

    Drone1

    Using drones and 3D printing to develop design thinking during a summer robotics camp

    Pioneer Yuriy Drubinskiy writes about his experience leading a summer program and how creating drones with 3D printing brings form, structure, and design together.

  • The Starter Pack launch event at Digital Harbor Foundation

    Introducing the Ultimaker Design Engine Starter Pack

    Presenting the Ultimaker Design Engine Starter Pack: a game created to provoke, inspire, and entertain students, educators, 3D designers, artists, and engineers of all experience levels!

    first puzzle cube and package to be made on a 3D printer entirely out of PLA

    Davidson Desktop Doohickeys: Puzzle cubes

    Pioneer Adam Davidson writes about a project in his curriculum that is a rite of passage for his high school's engineering program students. He explains at how it started and what caused it to change

    soft robot mold

    3D printing with UMaine Bioengineering students

    If it’s happening in Ultimaker’s world, you can find out about it here. 3D printing stories about inspiring moments, original 3D printed projects and much much more.