Hi! I'm Amanda O'Mara - Tech and Engineering teachers at Bio Med Science Academy (USA). I came to 3D printing through my background in art, specifically applied crafts, in which I grew a love for being able to make a functional object with my own two hands. I went to grad school for school library science and technology and I learned about the maker movement in it's early days and I threw myself into learning more about it and the applications around it. I'm always looking to see what is next and how I can teach the modeling skills better and apply them effectively.
Background in Art
Loves the Maker Movement
How my Students use 3D Printing
My students use 3D printing for a wide variety of uses, but the biggest thing that I teach my kids is that the whole project doesn't need to be 3D printed, it can just be a small part of it. So I have students print clips or attachments for bigger projects, pieces for games, or use it to prototype something before they commit time and materials for something bigger.
The Importance of 3D Printing in Education
There are a lot of industries using 3D modeling and printing that students may pursue, manufacturing being the obvious one, but also game design, science, medical, and more. Being able to model something and understand that things exist in three dimensions is going to become and essential skill and printing those objects takes them from being an intangible idea to something real.
My Thoughts on PrintLab Classroom
I was an early adopter of PrintLab and I was hesistant to use it as I prefer not to be stuck in a curriculum and with things I can't use. I was surprised to find that there was more here that I could use than I couldn't and my feedback has actually been taken into consideration and applied in some cases almost immediately. (Yay for zip files!) I love that I am now able to scale assignments to differentiate for the level of ability of my students and I can also teach them to use SketchUp, TinkerCAD and now Fusion 360, so they have a lot of opportunities to practice their modeling skills.
My Advice for Teachers Getting Started with 3D Printing
Just because you don't know how to do it yourself doesn't mean you're not able to teach it. Do the tutorials and workbooks WITH your students. Don't show them how to use it, let them explore it and you'll find that they find innovative and creative ways to use the programs. I run all my printers myself, but don't be afraid to teach a more responsible student how to use a slicer and manage prints. Start with one printer and expand from there. And, just because you model something doesn't mean you have to print it. The printing is a fun part of the lesson, but the real meat and potatoes is in the 3D modeling programs.
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