BY KELLI GILE
Walnut – 8th Grade creative explorers at South Pointe Middle School are now seeing their computer-aided designs come to life.
The school’s Project Lead the Way (PLTW) core has just added a new 3D printer to its classroom.
Science Teacher Crystal Dira couldn’t be more excited for the 60 students in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) program.
“Students now get to hold their designs in their hands,” she said. “We are thrilled about this program and how it’s allowing our students to get a heads up with our growing world of technology in education.”
This year, PLTW kids have been focusing on building and programming robotics and working on CAD designs. Teachers Dira and Kellie Muragishi (Science), Allin Everman (Technology), and Deb Brady and Annie Kim (Math), were determined to find a way of finding a 3D printer for their students. They knew it would take an innovative approach to fundraising.
”Let’s see if we can get it!” the team decided. First, they researched affordable 3D printers and funding sources. Then they posted their $2,800 dream printer on the DonorsChoose.org website. Within several weeks a donor selected the request and funded the project. The school’s Community Club pitched in the remaining $100, and the Maker Bot Replicator 2 was delivered during the first week of March. The professional quality printer is designed for engineers or people who like to make things.
The desktop 3D printer is about the same size as a microwave, but doesn’t cook popcorn. With just a touch of the start button it cruises at a high speed, using filament to produce the detailed designs. A cartridge smoothly rotates back and forth distributing thin layers of the melted white, red, blue or clear plastic material inside the unit. In just about ten minutes, a perfectly shaped item is ready to be scooped off.
“We think it’s good to have a 3D printer because it exposes us to future technology that will be used in the workforce,” said Austin Sun, age 13. “It can mass-produce things people have made by hand. The goal of PLTW is to expose us these things so we can have experience in STEM careers. The robotics computer programming is really neat,” he added.