If there is ever a true barometer for generational gaps, technology fits the mold. 3D printing is no different, and it truly is the next wave in a veritable cornucopia of areas, most importantly in education. How eagerly and quickly younger generations adopt technological innovations is the best endorsement possible. 3D printing continues to engross students across disciplines at every level of education. This promising trend is exemplified by The Hun School of Princeton.
The anecdotal episodes from the day and boarding school testify to the organic relationship between student creativity and 3D printing capabilities. Comprising just under 700 students from the US and 23 other countries, the 3-tier school emphasizes a tactical and interactive pedagogical approach apparently form-fit for 3D printing applications.
“We are just beginning to explore the ways in which 3D printing can be used in an academic setting,” said Science Chair Bernard HP Lockhart-Gilroy. “Because of the customization to print any 3D object that one can conceive, the uses of these tools are extremely broad.”
One way Mr. Lockhart-Gilroy brought 3D printing into his physics classes is by modelling three-dimensional geometric shapes. “It is difficult to conceive three-dimensional representations of mathematic functions, particularly when your only way to display them is in a two-dimensional way. Now, we can give the printer an algorithm or formula and we can make it,” said Mr. Lockhart-Gilroy.
It seems every discipline can find a use for the 3D printer, from bone models for a DIY version of “Operation” or analyzing the best form for optimal battery energy and stamina. These applications and others prove the real-world function and importance for 3D printing adoption in education. The more students familiar with the technology, the better equipped the next generation will be for future industries. Familiarity with the printing process extended beyond an idea and final object. Students quickly picked apart and utilized CAD programing.
“CAD is a tool with which students express their creativity and understanding of visual language. For our purposes in the Visual Arts Department, we focus on the creative side of design, but from a very practical sense, CAD can be used in conjunction with 3D printers for many practical purposes,” explained Mr. Arp.
The New Jersey haven for learning at The Hun may present an idyllic model for integration of 3DP in education. If there is anything true among educators, it is that an interested and engaged student is a learning student. Such activity will only lead to life-long learning skills that will seamlessly translate to a viable and better future.