How A 30-Year Veteran Teacher Went From 3D Printing Novice To 3D Printing Guru

Robin McGinnis is currently teaching 4th Grade Math and Science for the Mt. Healthy City School System. Last year, she was selected to be a part of the GE Additive Education Program 2017-18. Even though she had no previous experience with 3D printing, she took this opportunity and ran with it. Read her inspiring story below.

About Robin McGinnis, Teacher

Robin McGinnis has taught for the Mt. Healthy City School System for 30 years. Over the years, she has taught first, third, fourth, and fifth grade. She is on the strategic planning board for the Greater Cincinnati Stem Consortium and works with the Assistant Dean of Innovative studies on developing leadership groups for elementary school children. She is also working on developing STEM curriculum to encourage girls into the field of engineering.

Learning Design Thinking With Makers Empire

Robin and her students jumped into 3D design and printing with both feet. She told them, “this technology can be intimidating and overwhelming… but we’re gonna go through this together.”

She learned alongside her students and from the very beginning, Makers Empire was very engaging for her students.

“From the very first time they used Makers Empire 3D, the students knew intuitively how to move and manipulate the objects.”

In fact, the students actually taught her how to use different functions in the software.

Robin’s students loved using Makers Empire so much that she even started using it as a reward.

“I would (ask) them, ‘Do you want to do a Makers Empire lesson today? Well, then we have to get through this part of class first.’ I no longer have to hold recess over their heads,” she says.

Thus, Makers Empire is both a learning tool and a reward for the students.

The students loved getting to take home their 3D printed designs and take ownership of what they created With their 3D printer items, they had a tangible item to tie their learning to. Plus, many of them used Makers Empire 3D at home and reported that their siblings were jealous that they didn’t have the technology in their classrooms!

Improving Student Performance

The most wonderful part of this interview with Robin was hearing how dramatically Makers Empire has improved student performance.

Robin watched her students grow as they learned persistence and problem solving through 3D design and printing.

They were developing a growth mindset as they learned to work through problems and setbacks.

“The majority of my kids, when they started the school year, were more than a year and a half behind in reading and Maths. And (because of) what I’ve been able to do with Makers Empire and 3D design this year, many of my kids have grown more than a year and a half. With this program, I’m being able to close that gap for these kids.”

Using Makers Empire and 3D printing technology has helped her reluctant students become excited about learning. Now they say things like, “I wanna do this in the summer”, “I can’t wait till next year”, and “Can I be a part of the science club?”

Robin told us that using this technology has gotten her students excited about their future and has given them a reason to learn.

“Students have said I want to be able to do that,” she says, referring to complex 3D engineering.

“I’ve told them, this is just the beginning level… you can do engineering design in high school, but you need this basic maths. And this is how I’ve been able to get through Math lessons.”

It’s fantastic that Makers Empire and 3D printing technology has been able to engage and inspire these students to truly engage in their learning and help them fulfil their goals.

“Kids that don’t typically come to school, they’re not missing school anymore,” Robin says.”They’re wanting to be there. They’re wanting to improve,” she says.

Teaching Design Thinking with Makers Empire

Robin enjoyed the on-demand professional development included in Makers Empire’s School Subscription as she was able to go back and rewatch parts where she needed help.

Robin told us that she is so thankful for the opportunity to use this technology in her classroom. Like her students, she loves learning new skills. But through this program, Robin has also become an influencer, an innovator and a change maker in her district.

“I love the fact that I’ve learned something new and that it’s relevant,” Robin says.

“I love the fact that I have made an impact on my students and my district even though I’m getting toward the end of my career. I’m the only teacher, out of the 238 teachers in my district, who knows how to use 3D printing and It’s made me feel important. It has given me purpose. Yes, I’m one of the older teachers but I can still make an impact on the future. I am impacting what these kids are going to be able to do. I’m allowing them to be competitive in society when they get older. This is the end of my 31st year of teaching and I feel excited about next year.”

Out of the 238 teachers in her district, Robin is actually the only elementary teacher using 3D printing and one of only two at Junior and Senior High School level. So she’s really at the forefront of Design Thinking via 3D design and 3D printing in schools.

This interview fills all of us here at Makers Empire with joy and pride. Working with wonderful and dedicated teachers, like Robin, who are using Makers Empire to improve the lives of their students, is why we do what we do. Thank you so much to Robin for sharing her story and for all the great work she is doing for her students. We can’t wait to see what you do next!

Inspired by this interview? You’ll love reading our follow up interview with Robin about her new job as a STEM leader in her district and how she teaches STEM with 3D printing.

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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