North Carolinas Socrates Academy students getting their hands on a CubeX Duo perfectly illustrates how access to new and cutting edge technologies is vital to producing the next generation of scientists, engineers and inventors.
“As an educator, nothing that I have done with my scholars sticks out more than something that was hands-on, relevant, current, and engaging,” says George Latzos, Socrates Academy science teacher. “3D printing is one of those things and if we can place just one in every school, I think we can spark a new generation of ingenuity and innovation,” he concluded.
The students’ reactions after the demonstration spoke volumes for the dividends this kind of outreach can produce. As they returned to school the next day, sharing YouTube videos on 3D printing and their smartphones full of 3D design apps, it was clear that the impact made on them was substantial. Schools can teach all the subject’s from a book that they want, but unless the students are engaged they’re most likely not learning much, simply memorizing what they need to know for the test. Demonstrating technology is always the best way to get people to adopt it, that’s why anyone can go into any electronics store and touch all the demo units that they can dream of. This was likely the reason Socrates Academy parent Kris Dell, who demo’s 3D printers for a living with Applied Software, allowed the students to use her 3D printer in the first place.
“It allowed the scholars to see that creation and invention don’t have to take place in a foreign country in some unknown factory, that the process is not out of reach,” states Latzos. “Instead, the scholars were able to see that manufacturing is a process that can occur in their own homes and that creativity and invention can be a reality and not an unattainable dream.”
Getting 3D printers into American schools is becoming a higher priority, but as science and math test scores in the United States continue to lag globally, the need for access to new technology is never more evident. As schools focus more and more on job training and test scores, valuable skills essential for any innovator or engineer like critical thinking are beginning to be sidelined. Just presenting kids with the idea that one day we could print human organs is nice, but letting them learn how the technology works by actually letting them use it is how those same kids become the people who invent the technology to do it.