The CREATE Education Project were delighted to be invited to run a free workshop for teachers at a recent Computing at School (CAS) regional conference in Chester. This day was packed with a variety of practical Computing workshops for teachers across the Cheshire and the North West, enabling them to learn new skills and gain practice and confidence with different computing technology as well as network with other Computing teachers and listen to guest speakers.

Rather than just demonstrate a 3D printer and show teachers models to show the possibilities for 3D printing across the curriculum. CREATE Education delivered a practical workshop allowing teachers to experience first hand the complete 3D printing process by designing and 3D printing their own models. The workshop was based on our popular Algorithm Art Project. Rather than using traditional 3D CAD drawing software, teachers used software called Beetle Blocks that allows you to create 3D models by coding them. Beetle Blocks is based on the popular Scratch blocks programming language, it has a beetle that can be moved in a 3D dimensional space by programming it to move and rotate in the x, y or z plane. With the addition of some special “Extrude blocks” the beetle can extrude a path of material as it travels leaving a pattern that can then be 3D printed. As most Computing teachers and students are now familiar with Scratch, it was not too difficult for them to pick this up and soon they were creating some lovely intricate mandala designs by just moving, rotating and using repeat loops.

After creating some unique 3D designs using Beetle Blocks, the teachers then learnt how to export their models as .STL files, import then into Cura and how to slice and prepare their models for 3D printing. They also saw how the 3D printer works to turn their designs into a 3D printed object and saw some examples being printed.

The workshops were concluded by showing participants the free downloadable resources to accompany this project and offering a free loan printer to schools who do not have access to one in order to run this (or another) 3D printing project with a group of students. Oh and not forgetting handing out the obligatory free pens and 3D printed robots.

Sonya’s session is really inspiring and I came away with lots of ideas of how the Ultimaker could be used in school. Sonya provides lots of information, not just about how to design and use the printer, but also how to download pre-designed objects that can be printed for use in schools with a range of topics across the curriculum. This is the second time I have done a workshop with Sonya. I was so inspired after the first time that I booked her to come to work with my iTechno Club at Green Park Primary. The children loved the Algorithm Art session & were so excited to see a 3D printer in action!
Amanda Bennett, Green Park Primary School

We will be running this free workshop again at the next CAS North West regional conference, this is on Saturday 11th November at Liverpool Hope University, we hope to see you there. Find out more and book your place

In The Classroom

If you can’t make the workshop but would like to try this project in school, download the Algorithm Art Project Resources here. These consist of a teacher project guide, lesson presentation and student worksheets.

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