Students Are Practicing Design with a 3D Printer

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In a boost for learning 21st century skills, high school students are practicing design with a 3D printer. 

Antioch High School students are conceptualizing, designing and building carbon dioxide dragsters — model vehicles similar to pinewood derby cars of yesteryear — using the school’s 3-D printer.

“If you can create a design for it, you can print it,” said teacher James Anderson, pointing at objects around the room, from paperweights to phone cases. “Once you upload a design image, the printer sections it out and builds layer on layer until the structure is complete. Our 3-D printer can build a 10-inch-long dragster in about six hours.”

Engineering students are working in teams to design and build the dragsters, and the project will culminate in a classwide race. The 3-D printer is not just used by engineering students, however.

In a cross-curricular project dubbed “Antioch Motors,” engineering students are working with digital-design, automotive and math students to develop a hypothetical large-scale car design. Students have access to the 3-D printer during several phases of the project: from conceptualizing to sketching to creating the physical models and detailing mechanical portions.

“The students are excited to get their hands on the 3-D printer,” said Anderson. “It’s helping build enthusiasm for fields like engineering.”

Students Are Practicing Design with a 3D Printer

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Practical application

Stratford STEM Magnet High School also houses a 3-D printer, and students are developing practical as well as creative uses for the tool. When broken knobs made it difficult to change the temperature on some classroom heating and air units, Stratford engineering students fired up the 3-D printer to make replacements.

“The sophomore students in the Technological Design Department are always asking for design challenges, so when this opportunity presented itself, they were more than game,” said Stratford engineering teacher Erik Boczko. “Two students working together as a team used calipers to carefully measure one of the few remaining knobs and then modeled the part in Autodesk Inventor 2013. This process took two class periods and a lunch break to complete.”

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