3D Printing is a relatively new concept in education curriculum - but it engages all kinds of learners, and instills real-world critical thinking and innovative problem-solving 21st century skills. Seems to be a no-brainer for an educator looking to breathe new life into a STEM curriculum.
At Holly Grove Elementary School in Holly Springs, North Carolina, Ms. Jennifer Starkey, a technology teacher, has been thrilled to watch her students design, create, and learn when the VariQuest Trifecta™ 800 3D Printer brings their ideas to life - which has made her classroom the most popular in the school.
With over 1,100 students in grades K-6, including some Pre-K and special education students, Ms. Starkey needed a solution to engage every learner. Starting with her 2nd, 4th, and 5th graders, who are fully immersed in the 3D printing hands-on learning tasks, the classroom has turned out some pretty amazing projects as they Ask, Imagine, Plan, Create, Improve, and Share (The Engingeering Design Cycle). It's easy to see how 3D Printing is benefiting education at Holly Grove...
For one of the first projects with her 2nd graders, Ms. Starkey collaborated with the school's music teacher to create a set of music note manipulatives. She started by creating a short instructional video watched by the class, then observed as the students brought shapes onto the design work plane and adjusted them until they were ready to come to life on the 3D printer. From there, students were given staff paper and used their 3D printed notes to create musical compositions!
An upcoming project involves the pet turtle on campus, Stumpy, who is missing a leg. Ms. Starkey's 4th graders will be tasked with designing and testing a prosthesis for the friendly reptile. After meeting him, the students will be arranged into small groups to measure his shell height, sketch out their concept, then follow the design cycle process to 3D print their creation, with the winning group making Stumpy a much more mobile turtle!
Every student grades 2-5 has the opportunity to create their own design and print it - and they've taken full advantage, making everything from turkeys to unicorns to a complete desktop computer, built by a 2nd grader, below! Another student, Eli, decided to design a hot air balloon, inspired by a yearly festival with special meaning to him. Visiting Ms. Starkey's classroom every day for a week to see if the print was complete, on the final day he was disheartened to learn that the design was a 3D print "fail." But all was not lost - she worked with him in problem-solving to make necessary adjustments, and they found success on the next attempt!
In addition to developing great relationships with her students, Ms. Starkey is also able to better connect with parents when her students are eager for her to share what they've been working on - and the parents are happy to hear from the school with a positive phone call or text to hear about what their child has been up to!
When asked why incorporating STEM into the classroom is important, Ms. Starkey responded:
"It's learning LIFE skills. I never use the word STEM; it's just life. I like making [students] go beyond what they think they can't go beyond. They are building on something all the time."
Read more about other projects Holly Grove has done in experiencing STEM learning through 3D Printing, or contact us today to schedule a meeting on how the VariQuest Trifecta™ 800 3D Printer could benefit a STEM program in your school!