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3D printers are revolutionising the way we learn

3D printers are used in schools to develop creativity and collaboration. Source: Shutterstock.com

Educational technology is constantly redefining the boundaries of learning – and now schools are looking at how 3D printers can be used to expand students’ learning opportunities.

Developments in tech mean the days of merely sitting at a desk with a textbook are becoming history. Schools are seeing the benefits of using technology in the classroom to prepare children for the digital world.

Smartboards and VR are advocated by education experts to enrich the learning experience. And now 3D printers have joined the list of ed-tech staples that will revolutionize the way we learn.

Kailua Elementary School in Hawaii has already implemented 3D printing technology to expand the learning experience of students.

The school uses the innovative machines to encourage creativity and collaboration through “the globe challenge”, according to Ultimaker. Students were invited to create a part of a globe in groups, to eventually make a full 3D model.

Greg Kent, technology co-ordinator at Kailua Elementary School, told Ultimaker the challenge encouraged students to work together as well as developing problem-solving skills.

3D printers are also useful for children with learning difficulties or kinesthetic learners – students who learn through physical interaction. 3D models of mathematical graphs can be printed for students to explore, or replicas of animal bones can be printed to help with biology, explains Black Country Atelier.

The use of the printers creates a richer learning experience where students can engage with concepts in an alternative way to traditional teaching methods.

Introducing innovative tech into the classroom has the added benefit of familiarizing children with the digital world they are entering. Educators have a responsibility to prepare young people for the society they are a part of, and by using 3D printers in schools, children can develop the skills that will serve them in the real world.

“My guess is 3D printing will take a huge role in the future. For example, a Chinese company has created a printer that is able to make life-size houses and the Netherlands have even used a 3D printer to make a 10-meter-long bridge out of metal! This is why I believe 3D printing should be introduced to all students,” Joris, Year 10 student at Dulwich College Shanghai, told Shanghai Daily.

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