How 3D Printing Inspires 8th Graders to Consider STEM Careers
3D Printing Education
Minneapolis Public Schools recently brought tech industry representatives, educators and eighth graders together for hands-on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) exploration, intended to stimulate future innovators, designers, inventors, manufacturers and engineers.
“The 2016 STEM & Career Exploration Expo allowed Minneapolis Public Schools students to explore career options that have an impact on society: careers that lead to new ideas, new products, healthier lives and a safer environment,” said Jill Bjorklund, Event Organizer and Minneapolis Public Schools STEM & Career Readiness Special Projects Coordinator.
Students gain access to an industrial-grade printer
At the hands-on Stratasys exhibit, students had a chance to try 3D design software, observe a working industrial-grade 3D printer, check out other student projects, ask questions and take home a sample part.
“I know it was a bit crazy with 10 inches of snow, but from seeing how the students reacted to what we were able to show them – it was all worth it. The sad part is that many will go back to their schools and not have access to this technology, at least not yet,” said Ryan Erickson, master teacher and Cedar Park Elementary School’s Maker Space Coordinator.
The Expo’s tagline was “Inspiring Curiosity,” and the event inspired more people than just the students. “We may have gotten carried away in all the students’ excitement and started planning for the 2017 Expo,” Jim Lynch told Stratasys. “I have an idea for future events like this with kids. I could recruit our robotics teams at our high school to showcase their own work to engage kids like these eighth graders. Our teams have multiple 3D printed parts on their robots from our fab lab. That would make our booth really engaging for kids while highlighting how 3D printing is being used.”
From students to design thinkers
“Our goal is to help school leaders find ways to increase access to 3D printing and to teach students how to be design thinkers from an early age,” said Dave Benoit, Business Development Director of Global Education at Stratasys.
If students learn the principles of good design and see the results of their own efforts emerging from a 3D printer as fifth and sixth graders, they are going to be more inclined to develop interests in technical and engineering fields. That means they are motivated to take more math and science classes, achieve at higher levels and ultimately help us to close the skills gap that is hampering our economy and causing many to be underemployed.”
With the help of educators from neighboring Minnesota District 196 – Jim Lynch of Apple Valley STEM High School, Luke Podmers of Valley Middle School of STEM and Ryan Erickson of Cedar Park STEM Elementary – Stratasys put the power of 3D printing into students’ hands, many for the very first time.
3D Printing maintains engagement in classrooms
“It was a great day for kids and learning opportunities. I was amazed at how many kids today still don’t know about 3D printing and how intrigued they are,” said Stratasys Channel Partner Nate Thiesfeld of Haldeman Homme, which supplied a uPrint SE 3D printer for the event. 3D printing maintains engagement in the classroom, while fostering problem-solving skills that will leave a lasting impression on students.