Student-driven interest in 3D printing at Cumberland sparks classroom project, field trip to Carbon

Can you build a hand?

Cumberland 4th graders wondered that exact question after reading a Scholastic News article about Jordan Reeves, a girl born with limb differences who designed her own 3D printed prosthetic that shoots glitter.  Afterward, their collective wondering started a buzz of class discussion. Can anyone build a prosthetic? How does the hand work? How does a 3D printer work? These inquiries led the class on a journey of research to find out more.

Realizing that the class was hooked on this topic, I decided to turn it into an authentic PBL (Project Based Learning) experience, guiding student’s inquiries through research and ending with a product/projects for an audience.

But one problem… I don’t know much about 3D printing! I put out an all call to our class community, staff, and PTA, as well as reaching out to educators on Twitter.

It sure pays to ask for help! We not only found a guest speaker, but several parents indicated they could help us PRINT some 3D hand parts! Ron Li stepped forward to connect us with his employer, Carbon, a leader in revolutionizing 3D printed solutions. The company designed a personal field trip for our class to come to visit and see 3D printing live at their Redwood City headquarters!

Carbon was so accommodating to answer our students’ questions while also taking their knowledge and wondering to the next level. Some students learned about all the textures that could be printed using Carbon’s special technology. Some toured the facilities to see Carbon’s employees in action, witnessing the importance of collaboration and teamwork. A trip favorite was getting to see “The Vault” –a special room that housed years’ worth of Carbon’s prototypes. Finally, students saw a live 3D printing in action! We got to see a bone model go from digital design to 3D printed structure in about 5 minutes! WOW!

The trip ended with a special visit from Carbon’s CEO, Joe DeSimone, who gave students some great advice about never giving up and always staying curious.

Article written by Cumberland Fourth Grade teacher Alisha Zare.

Cumberland students see 3D printing in the workplace

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