As part of our Year 8 Curriculum Day at Manningtree High School in Essex, I am continuously¬†looking for relevant enrichment, cross-curricular and social, moral and cultural¬†activities to¬†challenge and stretch our students outside of normal lessons. ¬†The ‚Äėspace‚Äô themed¬†secondary school activity pack provided to support British Science Week 2016¬†provided a¬†number of exciting resources but the one that particularly caught my eye was Digital Space:¬†

The social impact of 3D printing.  As a DT teacher I am well aware of the availability of 3-D printers in many schools and through my membership of many social network groups and the sharing of good practice, I am exposed to the engagement that these printers can bring to DT lessons and the positive effect they have on promoting DT as a modern and relevant subject in the face of the EBACC controversy.

Keen as I was to deliver the 3-D printing activity as part of British Science Week, it simply would not have the impact to investigate the effects of 3-D printing with students that had never even seen a 3D printer.  CREATE Education were quick to help and happy to loan us an Ultimaker 2 for the duration of the project.

The arrival of the printer brought great excitement!

ultimaker box

Having no prior experience I thought that using the printer would be¬†complicated and turned to You Tube for direction.¬†I needn‚Äôt have¬†worried though, the set-up could¬†not have been more straight forward.¬†It is a user friendly piece of equipment and anything you don‚Äôt¬†know can be solved easily with the help of the internet ‚Äď even¬†down¬†to the application of a glue stick on the printer bed to secure the¬†base of the print.

It attracted a lot of attention in place in my classroom and students were mesmerised while watching it print. I started by printing the files already on the provided SD card. Part of the excitement was not knowing what the print would be! As I became more confident I was keen to show the students the relevance of 3-d printing to my subject specialism, Textiles. I searched the online files shared through Youmagine and found a flexible print that formed a textile like material. I easily downloaded the file to Cura and converted it to a SLD file.


PrintPrint top view

As a school we play a big part in BBC School Report. This is a project where 11-16 year olds learn to find, report and record news stories that matter to them. Some students showed a particular interest in the 3-D printer and decided to use the British Science Week activity as a starting point for their news report. Their report covered the key questions: What are the potential uses of 3-D printing, what are the potential problems, and should 3-D printers be freely available? Having a 3-D printer in the classroom definitely enhanced the experience for the students. We even linked up with another school via Facetime and interviewed year 12 engineering students to gain further insight to the impact of 3-D printing.

Thank you to CREATE Education for making this all possible.

Mrs Gregory and all the students at Manningtree High School

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