Science: Bede's Prep Pupils Build 3D Printer

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At the beginning of the new school year, four Bede's Prep School students embarked on building a 3D printer from a kit. It has taken three weeks of after-school activities for them to finish, but they have done it! Mr Childers reports. 

The assembly process fits with my ethos, of building up equipment rather than buying a pre-prepared piece of kit that the students have no idea of the intricacies involved in its making.

It is far too simple nowadays to buy a ready-made piece of piece of equipment that is easier to use but does not leave one with the understanding of its workings or the satisfaction of a job well done. It is all about doing stuff for yourself!

13D printing is a technology that allows users to turn any digital file into a three dimensional physical product. One of the good things about this technology is that it changes the dynamic of consumer culture. In other words, it turns users from being passive consumers to active creators.

From my perspective, our 3D printer will provide me and my fellow teachers with three dimensional visual aids that we can use in our classrooms, particularly when illustrating a hard to grasp concept.

3D printers make it easy for teachers to seize the interest of their students compared to just showing pictorial representations of objects. It enhances hands-on learning and learning by doing.

Using this prototyping technology, students will be able to produce realistic 3 dimensional mini-models (great for engineering, architecture, and multi-media arts students) which   provide more room for interactive class activities.

In Biology, for instance, teachers can create a 3D model of the human heart, head, skeleton and so on to teach students about the human body.

3D printing is one of the most disruptive technologies around, and the printers are changing the way we create and learn. These printers are affordable, personal fabrication tools, compact enough to sit on any desktop, and will allow anyone at any skill level to become producers, inventors and artists.

3D printers allow pupils to produce physical objects from strands of melted plastic filament. They allow students to participate in project-based learning that is experiential in nature and has real-world applications.

The process of designing, inventing and fabricating exposes students to various career paths such as industrial design and engineering, and allows them to directly engage with the tools used in those fields. They engage students in the world around them and kindles in them a curiosity about how machines work, objects fit together, and how the designers, architects and inventors who build the products, spaces and technology in their lives have found solutions to a variety of design problems.

This technology has the potential to transform the way we think about Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), and our hope is that an ever-increasing number of Bede's Prep School pupils will be inspired to pursue STEM careers as a result.

Paul Childers

Head of Science