I’ve done my fair share of banging on about getting more 3D printers into more schools. As indeed have many others. But it is not just about placing 3D printers in classrooms and hoping for the best, the teachers and the kids themselves need some sort of direction to get the most out of them.
And to that end, it was great to pick up on this newsworthy story from Afinia, the company behind the H-Series of desktop 3D printers, which has teamed up with Pitsco Education, a provider of STEM learning solutions, to offer education establishments an affordable 3D printer combined with curriculum and practical learning activity materials.
According to Pitsco R&D Manager, Paul Uttley the company has “talked for years about having something in our catalog that involves 3D printing. We talked about producing a machine, but it simply wasn’t realistic. This opportunity with Afinia gave us a jumping-in point.”
With its reasonable price tag, desktop size, one-year warranty, telephone support, and ease of setup and use, the Afinia H-Series is an ideal 3D printer for a school setting, plus it is compatible with both Macs and PCs, so IT infrastructure need not be a barrier either. The printer is supplied classroom-ready with all of the software, tools and supplies needed to “get printing” in about 30 minutes. And the partnership with Pitsco ensures that teachers have something real to work with immediately, not just hoping that the kids “get it!”
John Westrum, Afinia’s Vice President and Education Group Leader remarked, “Successfully delivering STEM curricula is one of the most important things that an educator can do. Having a 3D printer in a classroom is only part of the solution. Integrating one with first-class STEM curriculum really gets the students engaged and fuels their innovative spirit.”
Pitsco’s 3D Printing: Designing and Prototyping Curriculum provides three weeks of hands-on lessons with a strong focus on engineering processes and the Next Generation Science Standards. These products, as well as activity materials, create the foundation of several 3D printing packages offered by Pitsco.
Pitsco R&D Engineer Jason Hill, who created the CAD models for the curriculum, said that though teachers can find CAD designs for their students to print, this doesn’t teach any concepts. And lesson plans for this technology are difficult to find.
“We looked for curriculum just to see what was out there, but we didn’t really see much at all,” Hill said. “With our package, they are able to clearly demonstrate the reasons for using a 3D printer. The iterative design process really comes to life with this curriculum. This gives them a very good resource for really teaching about 3D printing and not just printing parts.”
This is truly a step in the right direction for teaching a new generation of students about the new generation of technology.
Hat tip to Joe.