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For most everyone’s life, when you talked about printers you talked about the kind of printers we all know: They print (in color or black and white) on paper, and sometimes have multiple, helpful functions such as faxing and scanning.
And for a long time, that was it—the cream of the crop, and a diverse cream at that. But there’s a new piece of technology that’s radically changing not only printing, but education and manufacturing, too: 3D printers.
3D printers are now used in a range of professions, from medicine (for prosthetic limbs) to airplane manufacturing (for parts). They have a host of benefits such as less waste and reduced pollution and packaging. And for educators, they hold a lot of potential to lend assistance to a valued topic area, the field known as STEM or science, technology, engineering, and math. As an example, students can use 3D printers to recreate an artifact or fossil; design, build, and test bridges; make letter matching tiles; and make maps. This is especially useful in the application of hands-on learning which is much more engaging for many learners than the traditional “sit and listen” type learning. Making objects with 3D printers allows students to imagine, design, create, problem solve, touch, etc.
The graphic below gives ideas for exciting 3D printing projects for elementary school classrooms; however, 3D printers can be utilized to enhance education at all levels (preschooler-to adult).
What would you like to make if you had a 3D printer? Comment below!
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