How A STEM Leader Empowered Grade 6 Students to Solve COVID-19 Related Problems

Sophie Thorpe is a Year 6 teacher at Madison Park School and has been teaching upper primary for 6 years. She has been a leader in STEM learning experiences for some time and has written a STEM statement of practise for our school (which includes Makers Empire and the design thinking model). We recently spoke with Sophie to learn more about the ways she’s using Makers Empire to help students develop real-world problem-solving skills.

How are you using Makers Empire at school? 

Most classes use Makers Empire at least once per year. I’ve set up logins for all students R-7, including special options. In May, my year 6s used the design thinking model and empathised with doctors, nurses, teachers etc who were working during the pandemic. Given there was a hand sanitiser shortage, they decided to 3D print hand sanitiser holders so that it could be readily available for these people at all times on a lanyard or belt loop.

Other projects have included; Mother’s Day gifts, designing book marks, personalised pencil holders, student leader badges and mazes.

What do your students think of Makers Empire? 

Students enjoy using Makers Empire and the gamification aspects really motivate them to explore the app features which means they learn more about the app. For example, increasing their level and earning tokens. Some avid users regularly access the app at home or create challenges for peers to complete. I asked one of my Makers Empire masters what he thought of the app and he said, “It’s a world where you can make your own things, things you’d like to bring to life with a 3D printer”.

What have been the benefits of using Makers Empire?

Makers Empire has engaged students with the design thinking model, encouraged problem solving and growth mindset, helped students to understand cm to mm conversion and allowed for cross-curricular learning experiences. 3D design and printing engages students of all ages and abilities.

What advice would you give teachers new to 3D design and 3D printing?

Download Makers Empire and start designing! I learnt alongside my students when I first started and the app tutorials explain everything along the way. The benefits far outweigh the effort required to learn. 

Thanks for sharing your experience with us, Sophie. We look forward to seeing what you and your students will come up with next!

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