Tuesday, April 30, 2019

3D Printers Bring Experiences, Learning & Make A Difference For Our Elementary Students at Van Meter!

I have always been fascinated by 3D printing.  We purchased our first 3D printer in the Van Meter School Library about 6 years ago when I wrote a Donors Choose grant for one. 
We were so excited when it was funded and loved finding ways to use and integrate it into our K-12 classrooms and curriculum.  You can read all about this here

3D printing was one of my goals again this year.  I wanted to not only bring 3D printers to our elementary, but I wanted to empower and teach our students and teachers how to create and print on them too.  And of course, I wanted to learn and print right along with them.  This was going to be a new adventure for all of us.  

I turned to our amazing VMEPC (Van Meter Elementary Parent Committee) to ask them to help us bring a 3D printer to our elementary school.  At first, I found one that was $1600.00 by doing a lot of research and asking many questions.  About the same time, I received an email about a special from one of my friends.  This was for a Monoprice MP Voxel 3D Printer for $220!  That was reasonable enough that I could even buy one to use at home.  
I thought to myself, 

If I had one at home, I could learn, create and print with my family!  I could get really good at all of the different programs and apps and be even better at bringing it to our community, teachers and most of all, our kids!  

So I ordered the Monoprice.  It came about 2 weeks later.  I was so excited.
From the first day we got the 3D printer, my family and I had a blast learning how to create in Tinkercad, find designs in Thingiverse, and print all of these things on the Monoprice 3D Printer. 

Hagan wanted a Hawkeye, Brady wanted a porcupine that holds toothpicks, and Eric wanted to print an engine block.  And we did all three of these designs and more.  It was so cool, super easy and fun to use. 
That Monday, I brought it to school and couldn't wait to show everyone what this little printer was capable of...and what we could be capable of too!
After doing a little research and talking with my principal, Cody Tibbetts, we decided to order not one 3D printer for $1600, but five 3D printers for $1600!  By purchasing the Monoprice, we not only saved money but we were able to put several 3D printers into the library, classrooms and hands of our students and teachers. 
These could be easily moved around to accommodate a large classroom 3D printing project, or be used one at a time for smaller printing projects...
...such as the 3D butterfly project I have been working on with our kindergarteners in Molly Wosmansky's classroom.
The Monoprice is easy to use because it allows us to send the print to the printer through our wifi network, stores prints on the hard drive on the printer, shows a timer so the students can track the progress of the print, is light and easy to move around and has several other reasons and qualities that makes it great. 

We have big plans for our little 3D printers during the last month of school here at Van Meter.  Our kindergartners are going to be creating and printing animal cookie cutters based on their animal research from their Bloxels PBL; 2nd graders are going to be creating and printing game pieces to go along with their Fractured Fairy Tale Crayola CreatED Game Project; 4th graders are going to continue printing their designs based around their wax museum characters; 5th graders are going to be creating game pieces to go with their Crayola Game and BreakoutEDU Project, and I hope we have a few more! 
My goal is to have every single one of our elementary students exposed to 3D printing by the end of the year.  And not only our students, but teachers and families too. 

This is just the start Van Meter and thanks to our awesome families that support our students and the VMEPC, we are able to bring this special technology, amazing experiences and opportunities for our students to develop and foster passions now and for their future. 
Together, we are making a difference for our kids.

Thank you. 

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