Learning to create in 3 dimensions


CHARLOTTESVILLE — Eastern Hancock Schools are helping their students bring learning to the next level.

The school system recently received two 3-D printers, which will allow students to design and create 3-D models while they learn science and technology concepts.

As part of 1st Maker Space, an education initiative through 3DParts Manufacturing, the school corporation received the printers at no cost as long as it agreed to host four camps that teach students how to use the printers.

Three of those camps are scheduled for this summer for students currently in third through 11th grade.

Director of Technology and Administrative Services Kami Phelps said she hopes the printers will allow students to be more creative and engaged in their learning.

Teachers are currently working with the printers to see how they’ll fit best into the curriculum.

The teachers are really excited about it, Phelps said.

“It could easily be something we integrate into the curriculum across the board,” she said.

Students participating in the middle and high schools’ Project Lead the Way, a national program that provides students with hands-on experience in engineering and science disciplines, are expected to use the printers as a way to see the projects they design in a final form.

Joe Paxton, the middle school technology teacher, said the printers will add new depth to his classes.

Students in his classes design objects on the computer but haven’t before been able to actually make them in the past, he said.

“It’s a great tool for us to use in the classroom that hasn’t been available or in the budget,” he said.

The printer can create hard plastic miniatures of almost anything the students can design.

To get acquainted with the printer, Paxton already has created a hairbrush, hammer and other objects. When students design desks next year, he hopes to be able to use the printer to create scale models of the students’ designs.

Fifth-grade teacher Dana Allen is excited to use the printers to create plastic models of prosthetic limbs with her students, a project that meets one of the state’s science standards.

Currently, students use everyday items such as pipe cleaners and paper clips to create models that mimic joint movement. The 3-D printers will allow them to create a model more similar to a real prosthetic limb, she said.

“This is huge for us,” she said. “We’re thrilled they’ll be able to use the same technology as the business and medical field.”

Carolee Tremain, director of education for 1st Maker Space, said the program’s goal is to inspire students to be innovative, especially in their educations.

“(3-D printing) seems magical to so many people,” she said. “Everybody gets excited about it. But there’s a bigger picture. It’s a way to get them interested and engaged in the learning process.”

The printers are valued at $3,000 apiece, Tremain said. The program is funded by the camps that the schools host, which will cost $179 per student at Eastern Hancock.

Allen said she is excited for the partnership

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our students,” she said.

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Eastern Hancock students have the chance to learn more about 3-D printing and design this summer through camps. 

Where: Eastern Hancock Schools

When: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., July 20-23

Who: Students currently in third through 11th grade

Fee: $179 (fundraising help available)

Registration: Visit www.1stmakerspace.com to register your students.

Information: Direct questions to Kami Phelps by calling 317-936-5444 or emailing [email protected].