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How You Can Make Introducing 3D Printing to Your Classroom a New Year Resolution

Don’t finalize that New Year Resolution list just yet.

If you haven't considered making 2017 the year you introduce 3D printing technology to your school or classroom, a new all-inclusive Teacher’s Guide designed by PrintLab might change your mind.

If you’re unfamiliar, 3D printing is a staple of the recently popularized maker movement—a phenomenon that has been decided by many in the education sphere to be a movement that is here to stay.

Although the 3D printer is predominantly seen as a tool for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) classrooms, PrintLab points out in its guide that the technology offers learning opportunities across all subject levels.

"Take exploration of fossils in a History lesson for example, what better way to teach this than to 3D print examples that students can examine, hold and understand. Physics is another example, where students could print their own model boats, some hollow and some solid, to experiment with what floats, what doesn’t and why," PrintLab says.

If you're completely new to 3D printing and unsure how to even get started, PrintLab's guide sets you up for success by offering advice for things like your first print.

To best articulate how you'd like 3D printing to help your school/classroom, the guide asks a series of questions that help you further visualize your goals.

By asking yourself questions like "How can you combine 3D printing with core curriculum subjects?" and "How can you manage your own time to enable you to develop 3D printing in your school?", you're able to plan for challenges and start the journey ahead of the game.

After your 3D printer is up and running, PrintLab emphasizes the opportunities you will then have to collaborate with others and get involved with things like technology events.

"Most 3D printer manufacturers have an online community full of people (including many teachers) supporting each other, asking questions and sharing knowledge. Take a look at your 3D printer's website and see if there is a community section. Introduce yourself and ask away!" The guide suggests.

In addition to PrintLab's comprehensive guide, there are many other online resources out there that can help guide your 3D printing mission.

Ultimaker, for example, offers a plethora of resources to 3D printers, like lesson plans and starters. Lesson plans on its site span all subjects, like anthropology and art as well as geometry and biology.

The site also offers classroom management tips that can help you get organized and focused as you begin.

Through Ultimaker’s "savvy 3D educator's superlist," you can access software lessons and tutorials, figure out where to find the best 3D printing model, find conferences and even figure out what grant and funding opportunities are available to you. 

If you've dipped your toe in the idea of joining the maker movement but haven't dove in yet, let 2017 be the year. Make on!


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Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor


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