At first, I was skeptical of its transformative ability. But then, I came across websites like Thingiverse.com and Autodesk 123 that allow you to download free templates of manipulatives that can be used in education. Fractions, hand and foot skeletons, frog dissections, the Mars Rover, and the great pyramid of Giza manipulatives which can all be printed from a 3-D printer. Teachers can even customize the designs have them fit even better into their classroom curriculum. Creating inexpensive manipulatives to use the classroom creates more of a hands-on environment for students to help them understand concepts in a whole new way.
But, how would I get it printed? Once you have created your design, schools in the AEA 10 area can utilize Grant Wood AEA’s MakerBot Replicator 2 printer through our Creative Services Department. You can submit an online form with your file, have it printed for a very reasonable fee, and ship it directly to your school through van mail.
Like many forms of technology, 3-D printing can help to bring students’ imaginations to reality. In problem-based learning environments, students can design prototypes to test, stretch and improve upon their initial ideas. And it's not just older students who can have their ideas come to life. Check out how Benton School’s first grade class utilized 3-D printing and Grant Wood’s Scale-Up classroom and 3-D Printer for a Socktober project.
My colleague, Jason Marshall, and I recently explored the MakerBot Printshop iPad app test out our printer. It was very easy to use and we were super excited to watch the process and see our creation come to life through the layers of melted string plastic building and building up to create the object.
-Amber Bridge, Technology Consultant