Thought Leadership: Inquiry-Based Learning with 3D Technology
Makers Empire’s Director of Learning Development, Mandi Dimitriadis, outlines ways K-8 teachers can use 3D technology to explore inquiry based learning projects in the classroom.
3D technologies can give teachers the ideal tools for facilitating authentic inquiry-based learning in their classes. Every day at Makers Empire, we see teachers using 3D design and printing to support all stages of the inquiry learning process.
This simple graph illustrates the inquiry based learning process:
Inquiry-based learning asks students to notice and observe as they experience the world around them and to ask questions. They are encouraged to wonder, to be curious and to notice opportunities for solving problems and making things better.
3D technologies can support the Ask phase of an inquiry in a range of ways such as:
Engaging students in a tactile, 3D dimensional environment where they can explore ideas, and objects from a range of perspectives. Arousing their curiosity about spatial relationships and concepts.
Makers Empire’s 3D design software encourages students to pose their own questions and wonderings and to come up with their own ideas and hypotheses about what might be possible.
A 3D design environment allows students to experiment and test things out and to notice how shapes and structures interact with each other spatially. Makers Empire puts intuitive, responsive tools into students’ hands that encourage them to experiment and explore for themselves.
Students put their curiosity into action by investigating. They gather information and ideas and start to develop genuine lines of inquiry and questions to explore.
3D technologies are being used and their potential investigated in many sectors for the role they can play in developing solutions to many real-world problems and issues.
Inquiry-based learning becomes authentic when students’ learning results in a problem being solved or some kind of positive action being taken. 3D design and printing allow students to create real solutions to real problems (maybe insert link to St Stephens video here)
3D design and printing can be a great way for students to take an existing idea, solution or product and make it better. Students can investigate authentic uses of 3D design and use their own innovation and inventiveness to improve a solution, or to improve the experience of a particular person or group.
There are so many great examples of 3D technologies being used to solve problems around the world. A great place to start to inspire students and spark their investigations is 3D Print.
Inquiry-based learning implies that students are actively involved and their learning, that they are creating rather just consuming information, ideas and solutions. They are constructing meaning, understanding and knowledge for themselves.
3D technologies have obvious applications to the Create phase of an inquiry:
Makers Empire’s design software is easy to use and ensures that students can successfully create and produce 3D designs that can be printed as ‘real’, functional objects. The accessibility of 3D printing means that they create their own original designs to hold in their hands and actually use to solve the problem their inquiry is focussed on.
The 3D design environment allows students to work through the entire design process. They are able to produce prototypes to test, to go back again and again to refine and improve their designs.
Using 3D design tools supports students to develop a growth mindset and to persist with their designs until they have created the best solution for their problem. Failures and mistakes become an opportunity to evaluate a design and improve it.
Inquiry-based learning can be a powerful collaborative endeavour and the ‘discuss stage’ emphasises the important role that dialogue plays in developing conceptual understanding and knowledge. By experiencing learning as a social activity, students learn from each other, share skills and experiences and develop empathy and understanding from a range of different perspectives.
3D technologies can help facilitate the Discuss phase of inquiry based learning by:
Providing a collaborative space for students to work together towards achieving a common goal.
Makers Empire provides a design community where students can view designs from around the world in the gallery for inspiration and also to share their own designs.
3D design sets up authentic opportunities to give and receive peer feedback, to discuss ideas and give suggestions for improvement.
Inquiry-based learning is an ongoing cyclical process that encourages students to reflect on their learning, to collect and respond to feedback and evaluate their processes and products. There is an emphasis on taking action as a result of inquiry-based learning. 3D technologies provide an exciting set of tools and skills for students to draw upon in all stages of their inquiries.
Mandi Dimitriadis, DipT. is a highly respected educator and speaker who works internationally with schools to help teachers develop Design Thinking, embrace maker pedagogy and cover Design & Technology Curriculum. She is an experienced classroom teacher who recognises the power of technology to enhance teaching and improve educational outcomes. Mandi has extensive experience with curriculum development and learning, having previously developed programs for the Australian Government’s Department of Education.
Makers Empire: Better learning by design
Makers Empire helps K-8 teachers teach Design Thinking, STEM and 21st-century learning skills using 3D printing. Our pioneering 3D solutions for schools include 3D modelling software, over 150 lesson plans aligned with international standards and professional development. With Makers Empire, engaged students learn how to solve real-world problems and make their world better.
'I found Makers Empire to be incredibly user-friendly. In particular, it was very “school” friendly. There are very easy processes for children of all ages and literacy levels to log onto their accounts saving so much time and stress... the learning is in the process, not the product. You could very successfully use Makers Empire without ever actually printing anything (but it is a lot more fun and exciting when you can print it!)... All unit plans have direct links to the curriculum including the Digital Technologies curriculum. The deeper I delve into using Makers Empire the more opportunities I see for using maths in an authentic manner, particularly when using the Shaper app with measurements, shapes etc.”
Hajnalka Molloy,Leader of Campus Library and Information Services
Aberfoyle Park Primary Campus, Aberfoyle Park, SA
"The software is fantastic! Very user friendly. The students enjoyed beginning with the challenges and it was a useful way for them to jump right in! ... The students are seeing the real life applications of math and engineering in the real world... (but) I think the best part so far has been the spatial reasoning - students are solving the problems they encounter and so I can really see some critical thinking happening."
Maria (Mimi) Brown, Program Support Teacher
St. Joseph Catholic School, Ontario, Canada
"After having tried several softwares I can say hands down that Makers Empire has been the easiest for my students in grades 3-5 to access and manipulate."
Christopher Burdman, STEM Teacher
Joseph P Tynan Elementary School, Boston, USA
"Yessss! We have found the perfect application for Elementary Students to design and 3D Print on the iPad. Thank you @MakersEmpire!!
Adam Torrens, Educator
Stamford American International School, Singapore
"The students love it. They picked it up very quickly. Now, they are better at it than I am!"
Colleen Small, Media Specialist
Groveland Elementary School, Minnesota, USA
"A roadmap to start 3D printing at our school."
Giovanna Iannicelli, Teacher
St Mary's College, SA
“I’m sending you the very best wishes and enormous gratitude for connecting our students with your learning program. To say this purchase has been transformative might sound like an exaggeration but it’s pretty darn close to the truth."
Mary Bongiovanni, Director of Design Thinking
Pace Academy, Georgia, USA
“Redlands has been using Makers Empire to support the students’ creative writing efforts. Students were asked to design a character or an object using the Makers Empire software. After this creative process, students had to justify the design attributes of their character or object in writing. Students became actively involved in the creative process which helped inform their writing process. Makers Empire is a great hook before a writing task.”
Shireen Winrow, E-learning Facilitator
Redlands School, Redlands, NSW
"Software is great, very user friendly... Kids loved it."
Bryan Couts, Technology Teacher
Titusville Middle School, Pennsylvania, USA
"I was trying to start 3D printing in our school for a while, but I found it very difficult to start from nothing. I needed a lot of resources and easy access to resources. This program has provided everything that I needed. It was wonderful!... All of my students learned how to use Makers Empire design software during my STEM classes. I used Makers Empire lessons: “Let’s Get Decorated” with 5th-8th grade students and “Mazes” with 8th grade students. They all loved learning about 3D printing... I enjoyed teaching this, observing their enjoyment, learning and looking at their awesome designs,"
Meltem Albayrak DiLeo, Teacher
Holy Trinity Catholic School, Pennsylvania, USA
"I love Makers Empire software. It is great to use with elementary age students... I love teaching students how to design for 3D printing. It’s so fun watching them problem solve to create a certain shape by adding or taking away."
Karen Owen, Technology Teacher
Grace Christian Academy, Tennessee, USA
“The (3D printing) lesson plans are really good. While they’re designed around the Makers Empire software, they’re actually designed around the design cycle. This is important is that it’s actually saying to kids, here’s a design cycle that has these steps in it: you have a thought, you make a plan, you design it, you print it, you check it, and then you go back and you improve it. It's driving kids to think about the design cycle."
Russell Deer, Principal
Braemar College, Woodend, VIC
"As a school, this has been a game changer in the 3D design game for our students of all ages. This is a great design and creation tool that teachers and students can use to be innovative and share ideas with a vibrant community of makers. With Makers Empire, students learn how to identify needs and opportunities and then create, prototype, test and refine designs of solutions using 3D printing."
Craig Kemp, Head of Educational Technology
Stamford American International School, Singapore
"I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your session and learning about Makers Empire. Your product is easy to use and beautifully designed. I think teachers are going to love it!"
Los Angeles County Office of Education, California, USA
From the beginning, the students had no trouble. They absolutely loved it... The students' favorite part was going from the computer screen to something they can hold in their hand...It’s always better if you can give students an authentic reason to communicate."
Sandra Wiseman, Library Media & Technology Integration Specialist
Woodsdale Elementary School, West Virginia, USA
"Exploring 3D objects using the @MakersEmpire software. The students of 2/1N didn’t want to stop and kept asking when can we do it again!"