A few years ago, the idea of 3D printing was science fiction to most. To a degree it still is for many. When I began learning about these tools I was fascinated with the novelty but did not at that point realize the full impact 3D printers could have on learning let alone life in general. On April 6th, I had the good fortune of attending a coaching session for Humboldt County students bound for California’s National History Day competition. I believe there were 44 projects selected from around Humboldt County to attend the state round of the competition. If you are unfamiliar with National History Day I encourage you to read more about it. In Humboldt County this event is an outstanding example of community collaboration in which organizations including the Humboldt County Office of Education, Rising Stars Foundation, Humboldt State University, and Humboldt County’s many school districts work together to support students with history projects.
One of the projects at the coaching session involved strides in disability awareness. I got to thinking about ways in which accommodations and universal design have had lasting and wide ranging impacts on the lives of millions. I wondered what role 3D printing could play.
There is a wonderful site called ThingVerse that contains thousands of 3D printing files, free for the taking. After the event last night I searched the site for “Braille.” Click here to see what came up!! How exciting. I’ve come to realize that 3D printing allows us to “print” our imaginations in a tangible form. Sites like ThingVerse allow the layperson to dip their toes into a new world. Those interested in not just printing but designing can look no further than TinkerCad. Best of all TinkerCad is free and has tons of student centered curriculum to get started.
You may be thinking to yourself. “Well that is great Colby but I don’t have a 3D printer.” Not to worry, you can use the HERC’s. A couple months ago the Humboldt Educational Resource Center at HCOE purchased one for patron use. If interested in discussing how 3D printing could be integrated into your program please give me a call or stop in.
If you are using 3D printers in the classroom already, how are you using them? Please share by commenting below.