“3D printing is great fun. Even though everyone has heard about 3D printing before, it does not prepare you for the feeling of accomplishment you feel when it creates the object in real life that you created virtually. It has taught me a lot about simple modeling and about how real products are made.” – Luke D. 11th
When we found out we were selected as a Perpetual Innovation Fund recipient with the Digital Harbor Foundation initiative we were blown away. Opportunities like this don’t usually reach small Christian schools. The surrounding community is small and the overall industry in our area doesn’t scream out innovation. The great thing for us, Digital Harbor looked past the barriers and the stigmas, and gave us a chance. To be honest, it has changed the face of creativity in so many students.
To begin the school year, we began offering 3d design and print classes to 10th-12th grade students. Being we had just one Printrbot Simple, we had to keep the classes small. With a group of 4-5 students working on laptops in our science lab/3d printing space, the idea started to come to life. Our students quickly took to the simple lessons of Tinkercad and within two weeks, we were ready for our first challenge. The first challenge was a kitchen challenge. Students were asked to create something that could be used in the kitchen. This would also be our first fundraiser towards the PI Fund. The way we set it up, students could vote on their favorite design by donating their spare change. The contest was also set up so that the winning design would get a portion of the funds. The winning design was created by Juliette K (a new student this year). She created a double-decker dish, which serves the purpose of holding your cherries or seeds, and has a bowl underneath for your pits or shells.
“My school’s 3D printer gives an amazing venue for student creativity. It’s really cool to use a program that turns my ideas into high-definition reality. From designing cookie cutters to making accessories to inventing classroom tools, 3D printing is one of my favorite activities at school.” -Juliette K. 10th
Our next idea was to involve the community. We have a great community here at NCS. Many parents are alumni, and the tight knit community really gives way to some cool opportunities. We decided to do our first family make night to introduce everyone to 3d printing, but also add in the cookie cutter concept. With some student helpers, we ran two computers lab and had a huge turn-out. We had over 50 parents and kids, ranging from kindergarten through high school. The feedback we got was tremendous. Parents and students were amazed at what they could create in such a short time. We spent the next two weeks blasting out about thirty-five cookie cutters in time for Thanksgiving break.
Following the success of the Family Make Night, we did a student contest with cookie cutters. Any student in the school could submit a cookie cutter design for the contest. From the submitted designs, a few were selected as winners. The winning designs were then offered to the entire school community as potential Christmas gifts. The money generated from the sales went into the PI Fund and the winning designs also got a portion of the money raised. The amount of orders were got was overwhelming. We started printing round the clock and even had to use some extra printers at a local youth center. We raised over $300 dollars and were able to give away $50 to the student designers.
“3d printing at NCS is a great outlet for me to express creativity. It’s a good environment to just relax, have fun, and learn at the same time.” – Hugh H. 12th
Currently we have added a second printer here at the school. Because of the success of using our Printrbot Simple, the school agreed to buy a Printrbot Plus. We now have two printers running, and have started using the new printer to design needed items for the school. We have just begun a lettering project involving ProtoPasta’s Carbon Fiber filament. The new printer has also allowed the class size to be increased, and will open the doors for more students next school year.
We are also in the middle of a design challenge involving the use of pencils… More to come from us soon!
Ian Snyder is a science teacher and 3D printing coach at Northumberland Christian School. He also runs a makerspace at The Refuge. You can follow him on Twitter @ateachr or catch some shots on Instagram at mriansnyder.