3D Printing in Education: The Tools to Develop the Most Inventive Minds!
Posted on February 02 2016
Evaluating the impact 3D printing will have on the education sector over the next decade and how Accucode 3D is helping teachers add this new technology to their curriculum.
A first grader walks into class and sits at a laptop. Soon she is moving her arms in mid-air and watching a sculpture form on the monitor. When she’s done, a simple file/print command will send her model to a 3D printer which will render her model into a real sculpture. Is this the future of education? No, this is the present and the student is using a Leap motion controller and Cubify Sculpt software, along with a Cube 3 printer. If you think 3D printing is a fad, you don’t understand the doors it opens to learning.
3D printing is having, and is going to have, a very significant impact on all levels of education over the next decade, particularly in science, math and engineering studies. It will become a fundamental tool for how those subjects are taught. In design and mechanical engineering, 3D printing has already become a necessary tool. There’s not a mechanical engineering school in the country that isn’t somehow involved with 3D printing. We’re also already seeing the technology being used in medical schools. For example, with 3D printing, you can print an anatomically accurate limb, so that it can be disassembled, down to its most basic parts and pieces. You can even simulate bone density to practice actual procedures. Imagine how useful that is to the study of anatomy. Doctors can also take an MRI of a knee, and then print out an exact replica of that knee so they can practice a specific and unique surgery. They can also walk the patient through the procedure, so the patient will know what’s going to be done to them and how it’s going to be done to them. All of these new practices impact the educational process. We’re already seeing 3D printing showing up in elementary schools too. Kids today are starting to use printing in their art classes, and in the study of science. There won’t be a school in the world over the next decade that doesn’t have 3D printers in them. It’s just a question of how teachers will implement 3D printers into their curriculum. And to be clear, 3D printing’s impact on education will not come from just the study of the technology itself, but from using the technology to gain visibility of our world in ways that we’ve never been able to see before. For example, instead of dissecting a frog in class, imagine if students had to make the individual parts and then ultimately assemble the complete frog in biology class. Is that a more practical and deeper learning experience than taking a frog and cutting it apart? It’s certainly less emotionally dramatic for some people. There are scenarios like this in every level of education, whether it’s engineering school, art school, medical school, culinary school, elementary school or high school: 3D printing is going to have an impact. Again though, I think it will have the most impact in the science and engineering subjects.
Accucode 3D is already involved in 3D printing’s impact on education. One project that the kids are really excited about is learning how to print and assemble prosthetic hands for the e-NABLE project. They get to learn about 3D printing and make an impact in another child's life by giving them a working prosthetic hand when the class is completed. Children are learning design, CAD software, assembly techniques, the 3D printing process, and how to be altruistic. The kids get to see what they’ve designed and created come to life right in front of their eyes. Accucode 3D wants to expand this program and move 3D printing into the mainstream of our educational system by making the technology easy to deploy and use. Just like everything else we do, Accucode 3D is looking to add value. We don’t just want to sell schools printers, we want to provide a managed service to make sure educational printers always have working parts, supplies on hand, easy to use software, and a simple upgrade cycle at their fingertips. We want to provide all resources, supplies, and, where appropriate, we want to help with the application and integration of the technology into your school's curriculum so that the students can have a more enriching and interactive education experience.