Students Learn Design With a 3D Printer

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The Chicago Tribune recently reported on the success at a Glenview elementary school as students learn design with a 3D printer.  The portable printer recently arrived at Glen Grove Elementary School and will permanently remain there.

 “It’s like ‘Star Trek’,” said teacher Markus Harnett, as he described to a class of curious fifth graders the futuristic possibilities held by 3D printers.

The City X Project

Harnett said he submitted a grant proposal with the Glenview Education Foundation about nine months ago after he heard from one of the members of the foundation about the City X Project, an international educational workshop program that teaches students problem solving skills by exposing them to 3D printers and design software.

As part of the program, children get to come up with ideas for devices that could solve problems of imaginary inhabitants of City X.

Students then use tablets to design the objects and make them out of clay, perfecting their ideas through feedback. At the end, 3D printers make some of those ideas into real plastic prototypes.

“To see it layer and build something from the ground is really neat,” said Harnett, who saw a 3D printer for the first time himself on Dec. 12. “It’s the coolest thing in the world.”

Harnett said the grant, which was about $14,000, included the cost of one 3D printer, which is about $1,300, as well as other expenses that made it possible for the team behind City X Project to visit the school and pilot the program’s curriculum.

Students Learn Design With a 3D Printer

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Harnett said so far about 150 students at Glen Grove have participated in the project’s curriculum, which takes up about three school days.

He said he hopes to expand the workshop to more students in the future.

Brett Schilke, one of the three people behind City X Project, said his team has been piloting their curriculum idea and showing 3D printers at several classrooms around the world since spring.

Schilke, a president of nonprofit IDEAco, which is in charge of the project, said his team first became intrigued by 3D printing after learning about the process at a conference about a year ago.

The goal is to prepare “children for the world of tomorrow, starting today,” the City X Project’s website reads.

Schilke, who is from Wisconsin, said the team has already visited schools in Wisconsin, Alaska, California, Lebanon and other places.

“It’s very cool to see kids engaged with these ideas,” said Schilke, who was teaching one of the classes in Glen Grove with Matthew Straub, who is also behind City X.