The BAE Systems funded #InspiringLancashire Project aims to be fully inclusive and inspire and engage students of all backgrounds and abilities throughout Lancashire. To support this aim one of the 52 schools involved in the project has been Pear Tree School in Kirkham, Lancashire.

Pear Tree School Logo

Pear Tree is an outstanding special school for children and young people aged 2-19 with severe and profound and multiple learning difficulties. The school provides their children and young people with a highly personalised curriculum built on the foundations of strong relationships across the whole school community.

As part of the funded project, Pear Tree School received an Ultimaker 2+ Connect 3D printer and materials, training for two members of staff and two 3D printing workshop days with students in school.

School business manager assistant, Alison Mossop explains why Pear Tree School was keen to be part of the project.

“After attending the training workshop, I was amazed at the range of possibilities that 3D printing can offer. As we are a Special Needs School the potential for our students to be able to create something visual by themselves with a little help is phenomenal. 

Once the student became more familiar with the software, seeing the students faces, when they realised that they had created something themselves, is amazing!” 

Following the curriculum training day, the school were given their 3D printer to take back to school. As the students at Pear Tree have a mixture of severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties, the standard workshops developed for other schools participating in the funded program were not suitable, so two workshops were developed that were accessible to all students at Pear Tree school.

Each workshop had a theme, but different making activities were developed to involve all students as many of the students have fine motor control difficulties and some students require more sensory-based learning experiences. The workshops were also limited to 2hrs each.

To facilitate delivery of the workshop activities, an Einscan-SE 3D scanner was used alongside clay modelling activities and Tinkercad 3D modelling software was selected for students able to access laptops and tablets.

Workshop 1: Superhero Badges

The first workshop day was developed to deliver to 2 groups of Yr 7-10 students in the Summer term 2022. The theme for the students work that term was “Hero’s and Villains” so to support this theme the students were tasked with designing their own superhero badges that could be 3D printed.

Superhero Workshop Slide setting the task
Superpower slide 2

Students were introduced to the 3D printer, shown how it worked and provided with examples of how 3D printing was used throughout society. They could also see the printer in operation throughout the workshop.

Students were then given the opportunity to either design their Superhero badges in Tinkercad or make their badges from clay (which were then 3D scanned to produce a 3D model file. By the end of the day all students had a 3D print of their badge to take home. A variety of clay modelling tools and shaped biscuit cutters were provided to assist students in the hand on sensory modelling activity.

Student clay model examples
Clay model and 3D printed replica

Not all students were able to access the Tinkercad software and none were able to produce any designs that could be 3D printed in the short timeframe of the workshop, however they enjoyed practising dragging and manipulating the shapes and some of the students with more time to practise would be able to achieve success with the software in the future.

Crystal said, “It was so much fun, I want to do it again!”

Workshop 2: Christmas Decorations Business Enterprise

Following the success of the superhero workshop, a similar format was used for the Sixth Form workshop day. This took place late in the Autumn term 2022 when students were busy working on a business enterprise topic. To support this topic, students were tasked with designing and 3D printing Christmas decorations that could be sold at the school fair.

Business Project Slide 1 Setting theTask
Business enterprise Project Slide 2 Examples

Once again students were given the option to produce the decorations using Tinkercad and/or 3D modelling from clay for 3D scanning.

The first group of students were a more functional (higher ability) group so they mostly concentrated on using Tinkercad to produce their 3D model designs. The Tinkercad scribble tool was introduced first and students created designs such as stars and snowflakes by drawing them with the pen tool (one student even managed to successfully draw a santa and a reindeer) using this method. Then some of the higher functioning students were then shown how to manipulate and combine 3D shapes from the shapes library to create other Christmas themed designs.

Tinkercad Christmas Decoration Designs
3D printed Santa decoration
3D printed tree decoration

The second group of students were the pre-formal learners, (sensory based learning group).  A few of the students were able to access the Tinkercad Scribble tool and the remainder used clay modelling to produce their decorations which could then be 3D scanned to create the 3D model for printing.

Mostafa said, “It’s amazing, you can make anything in different colours.”

Brandon said, “I like watching the machine build my designs.”

Steven said, “I love it! I’m a pro on Tinkercad now.”

Studnet designing a decoration in Tinkercad
Student 3D scanning a clay model

Summary

All of the students were engaged in the practical workshops and produced some great outcomes. The combination of the software, the 3D scanner and the 3D printer really captured their interest and they were amazed at what could be achieved with the technology and to see their designs being made into physical objects that they could then handle. The technology provides real potential for use in a special educational needs setting such as Pear Tree School.

Student using the Tinkercad scribble tool
students designing keyrings in Tinkercad

Tom Simpkins, Head of the 6th Form at Pear Tree Summarises their experience as part of the BAE funded Inspiring Lancashire Programme

“The training workshop day provided a huge inspiration about the potential that a 3D printer could offer our pupils.  Although this session was aimed at a secondary school cohort of pupils, I could see how ideas could be adapted to meet the needs of my pupils with severe and profound and multiple learning difficulties.  There were also opportunities to discuss applications that could be used with my students such as Tinkercad.  The understanding I gained about how to slice and print products was invaluable and allowed me to gain the confidence I needed to bring the printer back to school and start using it straight away. “

“The workshop days helped to inspire students and they were all eager to begin getting creative.  As a school, we have noticed that most of our pupils are consumers of technology, e.g. accessing apps, games and videos online.  Now however, pupils of all abilities became creators, producing their own models and having a 3D printed version of their work to take away with them.”

“Following the Christmas enterprise session, the Sixth Form formal learners took this further and created personalised keyrings to sell to staff.  Students used the keyring template on the Tinkercad software and applied their ICT skills on laptops to successfully ‘drag and drop’ as well as applying their literacy skills to copy the names and words that were collected on the order forms.  Staff were able to choose from a range of colours and pupils then had to sort these orders by colour so that they could print multiple keyrings at once.  By selling these, pupils were able to work on their functional numeracy skills by adding the values of coins that staff paid and working out the appropriate change required for each customer.”  

“Students enjoyed the fact that as an added bonus, the 3D printer and the printing materials were all donated by BAE, meaning that all of the money made in this enterprise sale was profit for the group.  As a result of these Enterprise sessions, I have seen the use of this 3D printer benefitting all areas of the curriculum and the pupils in this group are now considering other 3D printed ideas for their next Enterprise sale.”