While learning about adaptations of animals, a fourth grade science class experienced science and debate come alive with a 3-D printer.

Soft SkillsAt Cedar Road Elementary School, Scott Scholtzhauer presented a hypothetical situation for students to explore.  They were learning about adaptation, how animals change to live in a certain place over time. He asked students to predict the outcome for a fish species which today lives in clear water, near a reef, with quick predators attacking from behind.  But in 500,000 years, the environment has murky water, no reef, and predators don’t attack from behind, but above.

Students formed groups and used 3-D software to build a fish that had adapted.  After they had completed their task, the debate began.

Special guest Bill McConnell, an education professor at Virginia Wesleyan College who used to teach at Cedar Road used a 3-D printer to make the student’s fish designs visible. Students then debated why their fish would adapt, or not.

Some fishes had long noses to easily catch prey, and another had a big tail at the back.  Students debated whether the fish had too much drag, or if the tail could help the fish swim faster.

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