Tinkering With Technology – 3D Printing Initiative For Primary Schools

3DPI has reported on numerous stories featuring the educational sector, and this trend is encouraging. The latest news with a focus on education comes out of Loughborough University in the UK. The university has launched an initiative that is designed to give primary school children a glimpse into the world of 3D printing with a specific purpose – to get children more interested and involved in engineering from an early age. And what could be a better way to do that than with 3D printing.

The project, titled Tinkering with Technology, is a collaboration between Loughborough Uni, Kirklees Directorate for Children and Young People, Learning, the Open University and education company Kide. The applicant schools, or rather their young students, were asked to pitch their ideas to the project’s leaders – explaining why their school in particular would be worthy of a 3D printer of their own and how it could benefit their curriculum in detail. The winning school was Birkenshaw Primary School – with their excellent concept of using the 3D printers for creating personalized toys, which would also be trade-able as well. The combination of creativity, perspective and entrepreneurship were all aspects that were all taken into consideration by the judging panel.

Russ Harris, a professor and 3D printing expert from the Wolfson School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering at Loughborough, explained the benefits of the initiative in more detail: ”Initiatives like this are essential in inspiring the next generation of budding engineers. We were delighted to be able to take part in this project and show young children just how exciting engineering can be. Additive manufacturing and 3D printing has the potential to transform how and what we can manufacture. The highly visual nature of immediately transforming their ideas and designs into parts which are then ‘grown’ in a very short time really captured the interest and inventiveness of the children”.

Professor Harris also emphasised the importance of a more hands-on mentality regarding the learning process: “We hope that activities like these might spawn a long term interest in technology and innovation, both personally and academically. We were extremely impressed by the speed at which children of this age were able to grasp and work with the techniques and methods. We believe that a major factor behind this was by engaging the children in their peer environment and by learning through hands-on practice”.

All of these recent news stories centring on education are very promising – and indicate a bright future for a new generation of kids inspired by 3D printing with open minds and can-do attitudes when it comes to new technology.

Source: Loughborough University