Mark Campbell who is Head of Technology at Court-Moor School and Richard Moore, Assistant Head of Technology talk about why they think 3D printing will become an essential tool for school technology departments and how engaged their students have become with this exciting technology.

Hampshire IT SchoolsCourt-Moor School’s Technology Team with two 3-D printers
(LtoR): Catherine Gregson, Richard Moore, Mark Campbell, Jacquelyn Miller
3-D printers will become as much an essential for GCSE technology as laser-cutters are now, but their future in the teaching of STEM subjects could be harder to gauge.

That’s the prediction of Mark Campbell, Head of Technology at Court-Moor School, Fleet, and Assistant Head of Technology, Richard Moore, both enthusiastic advocates for a new technology that is big on wow factor with both pupils and their parents.

Court-Moor, a specialist science college, acquired its first 3-D printer as part of a Government trial in 2012-13 to check out the potential of 3D printing for supporting innovative and stimulating ways of teaching STEM and design subjects.

Another machine was bought using community relations money from global engineering and construction company, Fluor, which has a branch in Farnborough.

According to the Government report, 3-D Printers in Schools, Uses in the Curriculum, produced at the end of the trial in 21 schools, 3-D printing is now an established industrial technology used for prototyping and manufacturing products and components in many industries. But while the Government was keen to see its potential exploited across the STEM subjects, the report noted that use of the new printers tended to be led by technology departments, with less use in other STEM subjects.

Why buy a 3-D printer?

‚ÄĘ To enhance STEM provision
‚ÄĘ To explore further ways to¬†enhance CAD/CAM.
‚ÄĘTo develop further 3-D mod¬†elling using 3-D software
‚ÄĘ To develop creativity (rather¬†than having the restrictions¬†of a laser cutter (2-D net)
‚ÄĘ To produce cases for GCSE¬†electronics
‚ÄĘ Wow factor with students
‚ÄĘ Wow factor with parents

Mark said: “I think 3-D printers will certainly become an essential tool for secondary school technology departments, just like laser-cutters and CAD/CAM milling machines. We got our laser-cutter seven years ago when they were fairly new, and now it’s part and parcel of what we do.

‚ÄúParents who watched the¬†3-D printers in action on an¬†open evening were fascinated,¬†watching us printing out¬†spacemen as giveaways. It was¬†a great show-stopper.‚ÄĚ – Mark Campbell

‚ÄúCourt-Moor would certainly like¬†to see 3-D printers used in all STEM¬†subjects, and our intention is to¬†pioneer the use of the technology¬†in science and maths classrooms,¬†with the support of targeted INSET.¬†In fact we have already used it in¬†maths to create shapes to enhance¬†learning. In the past these would¬†have been flat shapes cut by hand¬†or cut using a laser and then¬†assembled to create a 3D shape. But¬†with the 3-D printer we were able¬†to make things ‚Äď shapes – which¬†would not have been possible¬†before because of the complexity,¬†such as a scaled-down bus, and a¬†battleship or even a piece of¬†jewellery with moving parts.

‚ÄúOne of the issues that emerged¬†during the trial was that it takes¬†quite a lot of time to develop the¬†skills, expertise and confidence to¬†make effective use of this new technology¬†with students, so to pioneer¬†it in school you do need people¬†who are inspired enough to invest¬†quite a lot of their own time. 3-D¬†printing is much more accessible¬†for technology teachers than it is for¬†teachers of other STEM subjects.‚Ä̬†‚ÄúMind you,‚ÄĚ added Richard, who¬†runs an after-school club for kids¬†interested in designing and¬†3-D printing,

‚ÄúSome of them are very¬†able and grasp the technology very¬†quickly. Sometimes you find you‚Äôre¬†only half a lesson ahead of them.‚ÄĚ

As well as the shapes made for¬†maths, the school has produce¬†cases for mp3 docking stations for¬†year 9 and for GCSE electronics,¬†money-boxes in the shape of a Harry¬†Potter treasure chest, tank turrets¬†for remote-controlled vehicles and a¬†clear, plastic pig that lit up.¬†As predicted, the printers have got¬†design students really excited.¬†Richard said: ‚ÄúThe students have to¬†prove to us that using the printer is¬†justified. They can‚Äôt just print anything¬†out, not just because of the¬†cost but the time. Year 8 have been¬†doing 25 minute prints ‚Äď animals,¬†flowers, dragons in clear plastic sitting¬†on top of colour-changing LEDs¬†– so most of the group come away¬†with something which really looks¬†good.‚Ä̬†But the school record is a 15 hour¬†print. ‚ÄúOne of the students wanted¬†to make a wheelhub for a lorry, so it¬†had to be really strong, it had to be¬†nearly solid, so it used a lot of plastic¬†at very high density,‚ÄĚ Richard said.

Find out more from Court- Moor School 

Court-Moor School staff are happy to talk to anyone thinking of buying a 3-D printer and are particularly keen to work with their feeder schools. To have a chat or to visit Court- Moor to see the printers in action email: mark.campbell@court-moor.hants.sch.uk

Interview from Hampshire IT Schools Newsletter -Autumn 2014
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