Design Production Education teacher, Chris Bailey from Raroa Intermediate School explains how he watched YouTube video tutorials and used free models from Thingiverse to get started with his 3D printer. He uses Tinkercad with his students as it enables them to design and build their own models. Having a tangible end product is engaging for many students.
So back in 2014 when we did start, we had MakerSpace New Zealand come in and sort of show us what this 3D printer was, and how it worked and it was pretty amazing. Really it was – it was really interesting. I personally hadn't really seen one. I'd heard of 3D printers but I hadn't really seen one in action. And there were a lot of YouTube videos and there is a lot of tutorial videos and explanations and how it worked and that kind of thing. So we kind of just started making things. Just testing it out and seeing what it could do and couldn't do and testing the parameters of the actual machine we had.
We started out just using some free software, some free models from places like Thingiverse and just using that to show or demonstrate to the students how that worked. I mean that was a long time ago and it was a very simple machine. And obviously they've improved since then but, you know, we were just making little small things and it was fascinating seeing how this hard bit of plastic was melted down and then slowly built this model up from the ground. From there I found this wonderful, wonderful website called Tinkercad and that uses 3D shapes, where the students can actually build their own sort of models or projects. And again that was bringing in a lot of the mathematical knowledge and so it was killing two birds with one stone really. It was all about how they could use their maths and how they could build from that. And then just you know creating little things of that and then printing them. And that was just a golden moment for a lot of the students was seeing something on a screen and then being able to hold it physically in real life. It's a really, really engaging way for the students to be involved with technology and see a different method of construction.
My advice for other schools who are thinking about it is just get into it and and use them and show the students how they work and give them the opportunity to use them and to be involved.
For a lot of our students and a lot of, again, our at risk students. They they were able to do this and have this tangible sort of product at the end. So for them it was just, it was really, really gold. Yeah, it was awesome.