10 Ways Teachers are Enhancing STEM Learning with 3D Printing
Few would argue that STEM learning in K-8 schools is a bad idea. But many are unaware of just how important these STEM initiatives are to our schools.
As reported by CNBC, last year the US had three million STEM jobs left unfilled due to a lack of qualified workers. The same is true in Australia where the Australian Financial Review reported that only 18% of Australian university graduates were in the STEM fields. Science, technology, engineering and math are the industries that move our society forward and there are just not enough workers to fill the demand for these positions.
This is why K-8 initiatives for STEM and STEAM are so important. We are instilling a passion for STEM into today’s students so that they are prepared and excited to take on STEM jobs in their futures.
To develop this passion for STEM, students need to experience STEM subjects in an engaging, exciting, and hands-on way. Makers Empire is a great way to make that possible. Makers Empire is fun for students and positions them as engineers, creators, problem solvers… all the things we want our students to be.
Here are 10 examples of teachers using Makers Empire with their students to promote STEM and STEAM learning in their classrooms. Click on the headings to learn more about individual school examples.
Students were asked what at animal would look like once it had adapted to the environment on Mars. To answer this question students had to learn about how the climate on Mars is different than the climate on Earth. Then they use 3D design to explore how the animal’s body and behavior would change after adapting to life on Mars!
When students were learning about the different types of natural disasters, they took their learning one step further. They decided to create solutions to the problems caused by natural disasters. The students identified the unique problems associated with each type of natural disaster and then 3D designed and printed solutions to those problems.
Math can be a challenging subject for some students. One teacher said, whenever it was time for math her students would cry! She decided to make math more enjoyable for her students by having them create a 3D printed math avatar. Students created an entire world for these avatars and there were no more math tears!
When students were completing a research project about how nanotubes make sporting helmets more effective, they used 3D design and printing to model the nanotubes. Nanotubes, as the name suggests, are very tiny structures that require powerful technology to be viewed. So with 3D printing students could create large scale models to discuss and visualize how nanotubes can make sporting helmets safer.
In science, students learned about the different planets in our solar system and how they each have a unique environment. The students also learned about how scientists used a rover to explore the surface of Mars. Now it was their turn. They were challenged to design a rover that would be able to explore another planet in our solar system. They had to explain why they chose the specific features of their rover and how the rover would send information back to Earth!
You can read about what a pulley or a lever is all you want, but the concept is not going to be understood until a student has a hands-on experience. In this lesson, students had to 3D design a simple machine (pulley, lever, screws, wedges etc.) using simple shapes. Students got to engage with cutting edge 3D technology and learn the basics of math and engineering as they created functional simple machines!
This lesson combined math, drawing, design and coding all into one! Students were challenged to design a maze and then program a Sprk ball to complete the maze. Students began by drawing in 2D. Then they transferred their designs into 3D. But, the designs had to be the right scale for the Sprk ball to fit in! The students rose to the challenge and programmed their robots to successfully navigate the 3D designed maze!
In this lesson, students were challenged to design a storage container that could be used on the International Space Station (ISS). They learned that being on board the ISS is very different than being on Earth because on ISS there is no gravity! The students had to think about the consequence of having no gravity and the effect it would have on people living on the ISS. Then, using all the things they learned about the ISS, they 3D designed a suitable storage container.
Students investigated the different modes of transportation people use. They then researched the environmental impact that these different types of transportation have. To take their learning further, students were asked to 3D design their own car. They used what they had learned about transportation to design their own unique car.
The future of manufacturing is likely to look very different than it does today. And one school is giving it’s students a great opportunity to be the engineers of our future with the creation of their Advance Manufacturing Trade Center. This is an entire facility where students can use 3D design and printing to manufacture their creations. 3D printing is uniquely able to give students this hands on experience in manufacturing.
3D design and printing adds a level of fun and engagement to any lesson and it’s perfectly suited to support the STEM learning approach. We love hearing about how teachers are using Makers Empire in their classrooms, so if you have a story you would like to share email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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.
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 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
'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
"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
“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
"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
"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
"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!"
Samantha Newth, Assistant Principal
North Kellyville Primary School, Kellyville, NSW
"A roadmap to start 3D printing at our school."
Giovanna Iannicelli, Teacher
St Mary's College, SA
“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
"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
"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
"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’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
“Before I started with Makers Empire I had no idea how 3D printing worked. I avoided coding and anything to do with the DigiSpace... Definitely, do the PD (professional development) from Makers Empire. It was very clear and helped me put 3D printing into practice… I think it’s wonderful for someone who is a bit fearful… it really helped me develop confidence in it.”
Jane Doherty, Teacher Librarian
Kelvin Grove State College, Australia
"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
“Makers Empire is a more student-friendly version of TinkerCAD for your primary kids. It’s so much easier and there are games to teach the kids how to design and how to manoeuvre the build plate… TinkerCAD, Sketchup – they are all for upper grades.”
Robin McGinnis, North/South/Jr. High Lead Teacher – STEAM
Mount Healthy City School District, 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
"Software is great, very user friendly... Kids loved it."