A Journey Through Technology

Week 7: How can 3D printing change the way we think about education?

on July 1, 2016

This week we are looking at 3D printing and how it can change the way we think about education. In order to look at the education aspect, we need to first know what 3D printing is. “You can print out 3-dimensional objects based on a working template, and they aren’t just for show.” (20 Amazing Creations You Can Make With 3D Printing) The first time I heard someone talking about 3D printing, it completely blew me away. The thought of printing something that wasn’t on paper was so crazy to me. I thought of a normal printer making objects that were 3-dimensional, but that’s not quite how it works. “3D printing is made possible by fusing layers upon layers of materials made from durable plastics and metals based on a template, designed with a 3D Computer Aided Design (CAD) software.” (20 Amazing Creations You Can Make With 3D Printing)

In terms of education, how then can 3D printing be useful? “As far as how this can be used in education, it’s a matter of bringing objects out of the computer screen and into the hands of students for inspection, analysis, and other processes that can benefit from physical manipulation.” (10 Ways 3D Printing Can Be Used In Education) In chemistry, I see students being able to print models of atoms, or even parts of atoms, to better understand abstract concepts that are normally hard to model.

According to Federico-O’Murchu, 3D printing is growing fast. It might not be long before we can print everything we need without having to import things or even grow them. It could be possible for students to print the materials they need in class instead of purchasing them. We already know that we are preparing students for jobs that do not yet exist, so why is it unreasonable to think we could teach them to use a piece of technology that may be an integral part of that future job. ” Bringing 3D printing into the classroom exposes learners to the same cutting-edge technologies they’ll encounter in their careers.” (Education Resources)

I think that 3D printers can make schools more independent and provide students even more resources to explore what interests them and also to prepare them for their future career, even if it doesn’t yet exists. 3D printers allow for adaptation to new technology and I really think that bringing 3D printers to more schools will help get more students interested in a future involving technology.


10 Ways 3D Printing Can Be Used In Education [Infographic]. (2013, February 19). Retrieved June 30, 2016, from http://teachthought.com/the-future-of-learning/technology/10-ways-3d-printing-can-be-used-in-education/

20 Amazing Creations You Can Make With 3D Printing. (n.d.). Retrieved June 30, 2016, from http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/3d-printings/

Education Resources. (n.d.). Retrieved June 30, 2016, from http://www.stratasys.com/industries/education

Federico-O’Murchu, L. (2014, May 11). How 3-D printing will radically change the world. Retrieved June 30, 2016, from http://www.cnbc.com/2014/05/09/will-3-d-technology-radically-change-the-world.html


3 responses to “Week 7: How can 3D printing change the way we think about education?

  1. unicyclepro says:

    Would like to know how you are going to print atoms? Aren’t there two methods for diagramming them? (simple shell and clouds) Would be a great way to visualize atoms. If anything, you could make single neutrons, protons, and small electrons and put them together to make a model, or find a way to print the element with the desired number of neutrons/protons together (fused already in a sphere shape) It would take some planning, but would be very cool. Heck, you could probably show how elements can be combined and make compounds, and such. Sounds like great possibilities in chemistry.


    • Sarah K says:

      I think I would do it in two stages. The students could 3D print the nuclei separately, so they can see the protons and neutrons, and then have them print the electrons separately, probably in shells. It isn’t 100% accurate, but it is a good way for students to see where the electrons “live”.


  2. Camille Varin says:

    I think our biggest challenge as educators is preparing our students for, as you said, “jobs that do not yet exist.” It seems that investing time and energy into 3D printing will help reach that goal.

    Liked by 1 person

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