I'm especially happy because my number 1 goal is to get my students inspired about 3D printing. As an engineering teacher, I've been hearing about and seeing demos of 3D printers for a long time. But I forget that, for most of my students, walking into my classroom this morning and seeing a real live 3D printer actually making stuff was just mind blowing to them. I've spent all morning cranking out items just to test the functionality of the device, and SO many students have crowded around and asked me about how it works. Just simply having a 3D printer in your classroom is fun and exciting, and already more educational than I thought. During lunch hour, students enthusiastically come back to visit it again to check up on the items being printed and give me suggestions for other things to make.
But the world of 3D printing is vast and ever expanding -- how do I level up and gain enough experience to be able to teach others? Well of course, I did what any teacher would do, and I gave myself a series of assignments designed to test my competencies and gradually build up my skills. As I surveyed all the various things you can do with a 3D printer, I created a checklist with goals. As I learned to do new things, I further discovered more things I wanted to learn how to do. The list keeps growing, but here is what I have so far:
- Print a basic demo piece from the Makerbot onboard files
- Print an object I downloaded from Thingverse
- Print an object via USB stick instead of my computer
- Create a simple object on my own using 123D Design and print it
- Create a simple object in Solidworks, convert the file to the proper format, and print it
- 3D scan something with photos from my camera, and print it
I'm not reading any user manuals unless I come across a problem, and so far, I've been able to figure out pretty much everything on my own. Change out the filament? I can do that. Unclog a jam in the extruder? I can do that. I'm learning as I go, troubleshooting and exploring. And guess what? It's exactly what I want my students to do too! By taking ownership of my experiences and exploring at my own pace, I feel confident, I'm remembering what I learn, I'm having fun, and I'm feeling like I'm really accomplishing things.
Sometimes it's hard for teachers to get out of their comfort zone and learn new things. We're used to being the experts. But being the student again is really refreshing, and helps me keep a perspective on what my kids are going through. More to come as I document my adventures in 3D printing! Any advice or suggestions are always appreciated.