Over the past few years, 3D printing has really expanded and made an impact on the educational sector. 3D printers are now commonplace in a number of educational institutions ranging from universities to libraries and even elementary schools. This new trend has brought forth a new way of teaching and thought, providing educators and students with the tools necessary to thrive in the future.
It is especially important for younger students to become familiar with 3D technology now to enrich their thought processes and to prepare them for better job prospects in the future. With 3D printing technology, we are building a generation of innovators and problem solvers.
By exposing them to this technology at a young age, students can think outside of the box and let their creativity flow freely. 3D printing should be seen more as a tool than as a curriculum in schools. This also gives teachers freedom to design their coursework, using 3D printing as a supplement.
A challenge of education that every teacher must face is the task of making learning fun for the students. Effective teaching is a fine balance of keeping students engaged while serving up knowledge and helping students build skills for their adult lives. By utilizing 3D technology in their curriculum, teachers can maintain student interest and keep the learning process fun by allowing and encouraging students to get their creative juices flowing.
Many schools install 3D printers so that students can learn Computer Aided Design (CAD) software to create various products. In the past, learning to design 3-dimensional objects was not as exciting because without access to 3D printing, many students would not be able to see and hold their creations. With 3D printing, students can make their creations real and tangible. It also allows students to see firsthand if there is a design flaw in their product so that they may go back to the drawing board to fix the issues.This keeps learning interesting and fun while teaching product development and real world problem-solving. Students can now bring home real examples of their classroom projects to show off, rather than boring diagrams and pictures.
3D printing can be used as a supplement to many other school STEM subjects as well including biology, chemistry, math and even art. Instead of writing an essay about a particular subject or problem, students can participate in more hands-on and creative learning by utilizing 3D printing.
3D printing has also been shown to increase student engagement levels. The Department for Education has run a 3D printing project across 21 different schools that showed ‘the printers had a highly motivational effect on pupils and most schools reported a greater interest in STEM subjects.’ The presence of 3D printers in schools and libraries will continue to increase as more educators begin to see 3D printing's true potential for enhancing the learning process.