Engaging the minds of high school students in a way that inspires and encourages curiosity can be one of the most rewarding experiences in the life of any teacher. Ben Doremus, an engineering teacher at Ridgeview Classical Schools in Fort Collins, has recently watched his students’ imaginations and enthusiasm engage with 3D printing, which was recently introduced to his high school engineering class.
With the help of the I2P Lab staff, Ridgeview was able to obtain a grant from a local company to purchase a 3D printer for the school. After assisting the school with the selection and purchase of a 3Dprinter, I2P set up two training sessions for students at the school. “Originally, I thought it would be just training,” Ben said, “but they hooked us up with the whole deal.” In two, three-hour sessions, staff from the I2P Lab showed students how to set up the printer, and then provided start-to-finish instruction.
About twenty kids showed up for the training, something they had to do on their own time, in the summer. The training provided a general overview of what 3D printing is, and then took the students through an initial design on the computer. The students learned how to validate the computer files and make any necessary repairs before converting the design to an STL file, the type required by the 3D printer. Before the training, Ben commented that he “didn’t really appreciate all of the parts that need to work together to make [a 3D print] happen.” After the training, Ben says that he and the students are “still getting a feel for what it’s like to be on the cutting edge of something.”
Ben has watched as the concept of 3D printing fuels innovation among students as they work with the printer to build various models and test the 3D printing capabilities. “The students can’t use [the printer] during the school day, so they have to come in after school,” says Ben, adding that the kids are excited enough by the prospect of this new technology to actually spend their free time with it. “It’s sparked energy in the students,” he says, “and the fact that they want to spend their free time working with it says a lot.”