Over the past year, we have been introducing more and more 3D CAD/printing into our curriculum and I see it as a growing area of interest
Today we're delighted to share some of the amazing work from Wimbledon High School in the UK, who have been creatively using PrintLab curriculum, Fusion 360 software and 3D printing. We sat down with Design Technology teacher Nick Sharman to discuss 3D printing in education before honing in on a recent Year 9 project, where students designed assistive devices for people with disabilities. Check out the interview and example outcomes below!
Hi Jason, I am currently Head of Design Technology & Engineering at Wimbledon High School and have been teaching for 11 years. However, I did take 2 years out of teaching to work as an engineer and sales rep for an educationally-based Technology company. I had always had an interest in 3D printing from when I was a University studying Product Design, although I started to see the real-world application whilst servicing Stratasys machines that were being used in the industry.
Over the past year, we have been introducing more and more 3D CAD/printing into our curriculum and I see it as a growing area of interest. We introduce our student into 3D CAD in year 6. Using Tinkercad, they design and build a jitter monster based on their centralised topic of learning. In year 7 & 8, we will be introducing the self-water plant pot, this will be taught alongside their science lessons where they learn about photosynthesis.
Year 9 students start the year with a talk from a member of the public who has a disability. This gives the students a real brief and context for the assistive device project and students gain real-time feedback from their client. At KS4 students start to delve deeper into the use of Fusion 360 and apply their existing knowledge to create an acrylic revision stand that they use to collect revision samples and notes in. These are not 3D printed but laser cut. From this stage on we find that students have enough understanding to apply their learning to create most objects they can envisage.
The students really enjoyed the project and they had such a wide array of outcomes, to deliver this project we used Fusion 360 and they picked the programme up quickly. At points they did find following the tutorials slightly confusing, however they all managed to create at least one of the samples before moving on to their designs. The biggest learning curve for the students was translating a sketch on to a 3D object. They quickly learnt that developments have to be made to design when you move from 2D to 3D. The idea of creating a final out come straight away became obsolete and quickly found out they had to make lots of little iterations.
The main challenge that I found was getting the students to think in three dimensions whilst working on a 2D screen. However, once students understood the basics of Fusion and become familiar with the interface they became more and more confident.
The project was well structured and easy to deliver using the PrintLab resources. Having all the .stl files ready to print was super handy. Although, I would recommend doing the tutorials as a teacher before you start the project. By completing the tutorials before delivering the project I was much more confident when students came across problems. I could also foresee where students might struggle and give them some pre-guidance.
Yes, we assess our students based on a range of criteria that they are given before starting their project, this is within their Google slides portfolio. We look at the project holistically, focusing on 4 areas - Communication, Problem Solving, Design ideas and Testing & Evaluating. We use our own assessment system called WimLevels to show progess, aswell as written and verbal feedback throughout.
Firstly, don’t pay for software! There are so many options out there that have educational licencing for free. I would personally recommend TinkerCAD for up to year 8 and Fusion 360 for anyone above. I would also recommend investing in 3D printers that are reliable and easy to maintain, we have a bank of Flashforge Inventor 2’s and they work well for what we do. Lastly, I would recommend PrinLab, the interface and resources are great, always updated and relevant to not only DT lessons, but there are also loads of cross-curricular links.
Let's now take a look at some of the student outcomes from the Assistive Device Academy project, together with their own comments:
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