3D printers are slowly emerging as a powerful tool for learning in the classroom, particularly in the case of younger, primary level students. 3D printers offer as the name suggests a 3-dimensional outlook to learning where students can physically see and learn from models created to reinforce certain concepts. There are many ways to use 3D printers to their full potential in the classroom to facilitate success in learning and retention.
Print Real World Scenarios
Students typically do most of their learning from textbooks which does not allow them to see the real world manifestations and implications of what they are learning. A 3D printer can help them see a more varied and comprehensive context to what they’ve been reading and hearing about from teachers. It is also more fun to learn with 3D prints compared with theoretical concepts in a book.
Real world scenarios can certainly be current concepts like an insect colony or historical visualizations such as how a battle or a city looked like hundreds of years ago. Teachers should not underestimate the tremendous value of visualization on this scale and the effect it can have on how well the students remember key details when they are tested later either in verbal or written exams and tests.
3D printers for classrooms can be used to illustrate certain analytical assignments in which pupils have to figure out the components that make up a certain object or the items needed for a certain task. If a builder has to build a house from scratch, what materials will he need? Questions like this can pique the pupil’s imagination and 3D printers can be a better resource for executing that than plain pencil and paper.
3D printers are extraordinarily useful for recreating structures to look as lifelike as possible. If primary school students have never seen the Eiffel Tower for example they can benefit greatly by being able to study that or any other structure they’ve heard about in the form of a 3D print. Any number of current or historical structures can be recreated in this fashion increasing the knowledge of the students.
Students learn much from recreational, and extra-curricular activities as well as class parties. Teachers should allow students to use the classroom 3D printer to design and print decorations and then get to decorating the main hall or where the festivities are taking place. Decorations can also be seasonally updated or according to an upcoming school event to show solidarity amongst all the students.
Anatomy concepts in general science can sometimes be the hardest to teach especially to younger students and 3D printing can come in handy to visually represent the human skeleton or the layout of the organs. 3D prints also make it easier for students to remember how to label diagrams when they are presented in examinations. For complex structures like the brain, learning from a diagram in a textbook may not be ideal for retention.