3D Printing: A revolution is coming, not on the production floor but in the classroom! – PART 2
In last week’s blog, I looked back at education in the past and at how children should be taught in the future in order to foster much needed creativity, independent thinking, curiosity and customized learning leading to a strong skill set for life outside the classroom.
In this blog, I will outline how 3D printing can help change the current education system by introducing a truly hands-on interdisciplinary approach. Here I will show how 3D printing can help with different subjects; how it can bring lessons to life, help students fail faster, visualize problems, create solutions and essentially result in more creative thinkers and problem solvers who will be better qualified to enter a myriad of careers.
In this way you will see how 3D Printing will cause a real revolution in education!
Let’s have a look at how 3D Printing can help with different subjects –
A 3D printed version of the Pythagorean Theorem allows for students to visualize how the squares of the sides exist in relation to each other. By taking the actual square of the two sides adjacent to the hypotenuse and adding the areas of the two squares, it equals the area of the square of the hypotenuse. This physical aid can help students who have trouble visualizing the concept of the theorem.
Fractions may be a hard concept to grasp since you have always been taught that six is greater than three. So it is hard to understand that one sixth is less than one third. However if you could print a pizza, for example, that is divided into slices it becomes clear that one third of the pie is much larger than one sixth. So 3D printing allows for fractions to be taught in a physical sense; can be seen and touched which in turn aids understanding.
History and Anthropology
The ability to physically connect with cultures and traditions of times past is one of the biggest advantages educators can provide students studying history and anthropology. 3D printing is also being used to revitalize ancient artefacts and bring history to life.
Imagine studying an ancient Greek war and 3D printing an accurate replica of a Greek soldier’s helmet for students to study. Whether it’s using 3D printing to analyze and restore skull deformation from priests found in an Incan temple or scanning artifacts (like a 3000 year old mummy) to provide exact 3D printed replicas for research and study, 3D printing connects students with precise copies of artifacts that would otherwise be “unattainable” to access due to their rarity, delicate nature or price.
No matter the curriculum, all students learn differently and 3D printing is an effective way to help students use a wider variety of senses to connect the dots and learn subject matter. This connection proves most critical in helping life sciences and medical students understand the delicate intricacies of both human and animal anatomy.
When it comes to a medical education application, photorealistic colour 3D printing gives a 2D X-ray or CT scan a third dimension, allowing emerging and existing doctors and their attendants to plan and practice on realistic models of the patient’s anatomy prior to surgery. Using full-colour 3D printing has the potential to reduce a patient’s time in surgery and improve their outcome.
The Western University of Health Science uses 3D printing to produce realistic bone models, such as the skull, ribs, vertebrae and more, to help enhance veterinary and medical students’ understanding of body movement and its impact on health and illness. This type of visualization is important for helping these budding professionals more quickly identify, diagnose and correct medical ailments for future patients. Additionally, the use of a full-colour 3D printer enables students to identify the realistic anatomy of bones, such as where muscle attachments and blood vessels are located.
Today’s students have the potential to hone their craft by studying the artistic form of master artists using 3D printing. Replicating a full-colour 3D model of any fine art object can parallel details not visible from a 2D textbook, such as the texture of a sculpture. Not only can 3D printing convey far more information and meaning than a 2D image, it also exposes students to next generation processes of fine art restoration and conservation.
3D printing can also enable students to combine their creativity with technology to realize their own unique vision. Traditionally, fine art educational departments have been slow to realize possible applications for 3D printing. However, Keith Brown, a professor at The Manchester School of Art, is pushing new boundaries in sculpture by adopting 3D printing to explore design beyond the confines of handcrafting and CAD software to give designs new meaning. The end result helps him articulate geometry and form in a way that transcends physical form, giving students the ability to produce meaningful works of art and sculpture that can’t be produced in any other way.
Mcor’s vision is to put a 3D printer into every classroom. To make 3D printers ubiquitous in classrooms, a number of factors come into play:
- Low-cost materials so that all students and schools have unlimited access to the technology after they get the printer in house.
- Photorealistic colour capability, including the ability for the 3D printer to print both full, bitmap colour and monochrome models, to enable a much wider range of academic departments and ages to make use of the technology. For example, academic departments, such as architecture need both full-colour and monochrome capability for detailed design studies and massing models, respectively. Other disciplines, such as medicine and fine arts, also require colour.
- Safer, cleaner, more eco-friendly processes and materials. Press coverage over in the last year or two has documented studies about plastic 3D printer toxic particle emissions. Parents and teachers will demand safe 3D printers and safe processes that do not require hazardous solutions to dissolve support structures or expose students to dangerous heat or light. Primary schools will require materials that are safe for students to handle without gloves, for more pervasive penetration of the technology at those age levels.
- Durable materials. All students need durable models that won’t break if handled, dropped or bounce around in back packs.
- Throughput. Educators need 3D printers with the ability to print an entire classroom’s worth of models in a timely fashion.
- Reliability. Teachers develop daily class plans to which they must adhere and, therefore, their 3D printers must work when they are needed. Valuable classroom time can’t be spent trying to repair printers.
We introduced the Mcor ARKe at CES this year, the World’s first full colour desktop 3D printer – we feel that this printer will go a long way to fulfilling the criteria needed for a printer in education – we like to think that the ARKe ticks all these boxes – low cost, full colour, safe and eco-friendly, durable material, high throughput and reliability.
And now you can understand why Conor is so passionate about a 3D printing revolution in the classroom, not only because the education system is ripe for change but also because we have the tools to make this happen!