The next phase for the Kings Beach Elementary STEAM lab is to purchase innovative technology like 3D printers, drones, and robotics. The most reasonable place to start is a 3D printer. The cost of 3D printing has been decreasing over the past few years, and it is the most durable technology out of the above listed options. In addition to the cost effectiveness, 3D printing will bring objects like the California Missions or a human heart to students' fingertips and allow them to explore these objects more in depth. Students will also learn valuable lessons in problem-solving and perseverance during the creative process.
The greatest benefit to this program will be allowing students to design, fail, and redesign until they find a suitable solution to their desired model. Secondary to learning life lessons about perseverance, students will also benefit from re-creating models that are not readily available like ancient artifacts or models of objects that would be microscopic in real life like animal cells.
The success of the program will be measured qualitatively through student trial and error, with their models being physical representations of their success. They will also have to prove proficiency in design programs like Tinkercad, a free program that they can register for with their gmail accounts, in order to produce any model.
The program will start with second through fourth graders and eventually move to lower grades with older student helpers. Next, design projects will be based on integrated lessons in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM). For example, second grade students could design a model of a plant with all of it's parts, third grade could design a model of a puppy from parent traits, and fourth grade could design a model of gold-mining equipment used during the gold rush. After projects are decided, students will register for a free account and learn the design process with Tinkercad, currently the highest rated 3D printing design program for kids. Once they have their design edited and finalized, they will then learn how to send it to the 3D printer. After they have a chance to look over their model, they will then have the opportunity to redesign and create an improved model.
This program can be shared school-wide in the technology lab and in classrooms with the Chromebooks. It can also be shared with district elementary and technology teachers.
My principal said there is money available in site funds to help with maintenance of the printer.