How 5th Graders at Woodsdale Elementary Learned About Engineering with 3D Printing

Teacher with students and 3D gadget

Coming up with ways to let students experience the engineering design process first-hand in the K-8 classroom can be a challenge. But under the guidance of their teacher, Sandra Weisman (above), the 5th-grade students at Woodsdale Elementary made it happen. By using Makers Empire and 3D printing they implemented the engineering design process to develop a Super Gadget and then produce a persuasive video commercial selling their final product. Read their awesome story below.

A Teacher Passionate About Technology

Sandra Wiseman, the library media/technology integration specialist at Woodsdale Elementary, was a part of the GE Additive Education Program in 2017-18. Sandra is passionate about the use of technology in schools. This is the first year she and her students used 3D printing and design and she is looking forward to having her students participate in more projects in the future.

Designing With Intent – The Engineering Design Process

At Woodsdale Elementary school, the 5th-grade students used 3D design and printing to explore the engineering design process and in the process, become inventors!

They were challenged to design a Super Gadget that a superhero of their choice would use to fight supervillains.

Like any engineering project, students first had to do their research. They learned about a variety of heroes and the types of gadgets that they use. Through their research students identified a hero and set out to design a new gadget for them.

But the gadget had to fulfil a purpose, forcing the students to design with intent.

By designing with the end result in mind the students used the engineering design process to make iterations of their designs until they were satisfied with the result. This was a very powerful experience for the students and a place where Sandra noticed improvements.

Using the engineering design process students created several iterations. They were able to then see the problem with their initial design and the second object was much better. I could see growth in their design. Sandra Wiseman - Woodsdale Elementary School

Using Makers Empire and 3D printing allowed for the creation of multiple design iterations quickly and easily. This gave students the opportunity to experience the power of the engineering design process in a meaningful and authentic way.

Honing Those 21st-Century Skills

The mere creation of something awesome is not enough. If you invent something that can solve a problem or provide a benefit to people, it is useless if you can’t communicate the value of your design to the rest of the world.

So, as a part of their project, once the students created a 3D printed Super Gadget they were happy with, they set out to write and film a commercial for their product.

The students learned about the various components of making a video from the script and filming to acting and sound. They also learned how to make their commercials persuasive.

How would they convince a superhero that they needed to buy this latest Super Gadget? That was the central questions students answered as they produced their commercials.

As students worked toward creating a persuasive commercial, they were also exploring and learning about digital communication. This experience allows students to experience video as another way to communicate their ideas and expands their communication toolbox. The focus is on student learning and growth, not 3D printing.

“3D printing is cool. But there always needs to be a curricular reason to use the technology”Sandra Wiseman - Woodsdale Elementary School
Close up of a student holding their 3D super gadget

We love how this project integrates not only the engineering design process but also the development of students’ 21st-century skills. It is a great application of 3D design and printing in the classroom. We are so thankful that Sandra and the students at Woodsdale Elementary shared their experience with us. We look forward to the great projects and learning that is sure to happen alongside your continued use of Makers Empire in the years to come!

About the Author

Jeanette McConnell, Ph.D. is a passionate educator with a strong scientific background. She earned a bachelors degree in biochemistry at San Diego State University and went on to earn a doctoral degree in chemistry at the University of NSW. Throughout her studies, she tutored her fellow students. Her experience presenting science shows and workshops to children convinced her of the value of a hands-on education. She believes Makers Empire is the way to make learning hands-on and harness the power of 3D printing technology in education.


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