We came across Alex Martinucci through our CREATE Education community. He epitomises the young maker movement that often miss out on valuable access time to technologies. Alex has provided us with a superb blog about his experiences getting funding for 3D printers in education, and specific learning outcomes that have helped him progress towards a career working with technologies.
Hey all. I have no clue where to start; it’s my first blog so let’s jump right in!
I’m Alex, I am 17 years old and cool tech has always fascinated me. Love every aspect of it. The gears, the belts and the circuit boards, what could be better!? I tried to make some printers myself and they worked, but in terms of print quality I could have just used a Hot-Glue gun by hand! Of course, it was brilliant to learn on them and see what the different settings did, but I needed to get to the next level. I mean, even Frodo left the shire eventual and now it was my turn.
I heard through some teachers that there was a funding opportunity for anything you want at our council. Long story short, you had to prepare a speech, including how much money you want and how you will spend each penny. Unfortunately their maximum asking amount was £3000 so I couldn’t swing a nice powder printer. I already knew what I was going to get. Two Ultimaker original kits and a butt load of plastic to help me start my own 3D printing club.
To prepare for my trip to Mordor (the council) , I took some 3D prints I made with me to give the judges something to look at and show them the technology is real. I will make a separate Blog post about the details of the speech if anyone is interested in how to convince your school/work to get one. (Or your wife!)
So I got the full amount I asked for, which was around the £1800, they were more than happy to provide it to me. With that I got started and put the orders through for the Ultimaker kits and filament. Like you may read about, the Ultimakers were amazingly easy to build and set up but it was nice to know that if you couldn’t do it, there was a great forum where people were ready to jump in and help. When the Ultimakers were both built I already had the knowledge of how to set them up from my past printers so I was able to get amazing prints after 20 min or so.
But, what did I do with the printers?
With Mr. Holmes, a design teacher in my school, we were able to set up a 3D printer club where students could come after school and learn about 3D design and getting those models into their hands. We used TinkerCad, a brilliantly simple and colorful program for younger years to learn on. It also shared pre-made models that students could work from.
In future Blogs we intend to release the lesson resoraces via the create website so you can try it yourself but for now I will just explain our main objective for the students. ‘By the end of the 6 week term the pupil will be able to design an object to fit a specific purpose in TinkerCad‘. It’s not a bad plan but you need to make sure you inspire them to make something, so our first 6 week term was about designing a toy that could fit into a kinder egg. (Brilliant for us as we do not use too much filament and Great fun for the students)
Why should the students be learning about 3D printers?
As a young guy I find adapting to new technology is very easy but when I see my father trying to figure out how his computer mouse works without wires I see a strong need for classes in school where you learn about new technology, but it never seems to happen. If I give the students the opportunity to learn about 3D printers now, they will have a huge advantage over other students. For example: I was looking at applying for an engineering course in London and they said that a basic understanding for CAD (computer aided design) is needed as it is heavily featured on the course. If I did not get into 3D printers I would never have learnt CAD. (Making the engineering course very difficult)
So what’s next for me?
The club has been running like I mentioned above for a while and I was very lucky to run into the great people on the CREATE education project. I am working with them to help demonstrate how amazing 3D printers are and also how to implement them into the school curriculum. Mr. Holmes and I were invited to a mini Maker-Faire by Ultimaker to have a chance to meet up face to face and talk about what we intend to do with our printers, and while we were there we met all kinds of makers and tinkerers. We visited the company CannyBots which sells programmable Bluetooth cars, which we thought would be an awesome addition to the club and will allow the more advanced students to have fun with designs (wheels, chassis, spoilers, etc).
Currently we are working on a lesson plan but it is essentially going to be a chassis and shell design (for the PCB and components) specifically designed for racing. We will have two teams race against each other and examine the effects of different car bodies’ weight, shape and wheel size. This will also show them other factors in 3D printing like ‘infill’, which can affect the weight and strength of the car.
I think I should leave it here for today, this is my first blog
So I am very keen to improve so any criticism or questions are very welcome
You can email me at email@example.com
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