3D printing is a technology that has grown substantially in the past few years.  It is becoming a product that is disrupting the world.  The creativity and “out of the box” thinking that is involved with this technology stretches the boundaries of discovery and learning. Scientists are breaking boundaries with 3D printing technology from prosthetics to replacing parts of the Great Barrier Reef and are now working on printing organs! Will it change the world?

Having a 3D printer:

  • enables an engaging hands on experience for learners 
  • nurtures their knowledge and interest in engineering and problem solving, supporting STEAM
  • explores many math concepts, including measurement and scale
  • allows students another way to demonstrate learning in a personalized learning environment

Students are able to envision a prototype and then bring it to life, test it, refine it, and perfect it.

This technology  has been around for awhile, but has recently become more cost effective for home and classroom use.  Giving anyone the ability to bring any creation you imagine in your mind to life!

How does it work?

Ahttp://www.edutopia.org/blog/year-one-with-3d-printer-vicki-davis?utm_content=buffer6a4e0&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer3D Printer heats up a plastic, much like a glue gun, and extracts it as a liquid on the bed of the printer.  The layer that is extruded is extremely thin and dries quickly.  It creates the 3D image by putting many of these thin layers together.  Some great finds for 3D printers are in this Make Magazine review.

I have a Printrbot Simple and I have to say that it has been easy to use!  It also offers an educational discount, so it will cost only $399.00.

There are also many 3D pens out right now.  They work in a couple of different ways. The 3D Doodler works similarly to a 3D printer and is rated for students 14+ since the tip does get extremely hot.  The Creopop extracts a liquid ink that is cured by an LED light, so it is not hot and is safe for all ages.

Where does it fit in my classroom?

The sky's really the limit.  Students could create many different things and satisfy multiple standards with a 3D pen or printer.  The first thing my students do is create their name on a keyring using an online (free) program called Tinkercad.  Once students are familiar with the x, y, and z axis and how they all connect, then we move on to other projects.  Here is a great list of software resources.

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his year,the first thing I did was take some volunteers from our fourth grade to design cookie cutters for our kindergarten and early childhood classes.  The lesson here was not necessarily 3D printing, but giving back to our school community.  Students drew their shape on a piece of paper, took a picture of it and uploaded it to CookieCaster.  This site then allows you to transform your design into a 3D cookie cutter and save as an .stl file for printing.  The students really enjoyed watching their drawings come to life and our kindergarten and early childhood teachers loved the designs they came up with!


We used the 3D pens in Art class with third graders to create snowflake designs that they added to their watercolor ornament.  Third graders also created snow globes using the green screen and added their 3D snowflakes for some more flair!




Our next project will be creating our book characters using the 3D pens in fourth grade!  As our other schools get 3D printers, I would love to implement CityX  project design to really explore creativity and problem solving in the upper grade levels.

There are so many ideas I have left to explore with 3D printing! What ideas do you have for 3D printing and the classroom?