3D Printing in Primary Schools

July 16, 2018 No comments exist

3D Printing in Primary Schools

PT Design goes back to the classroom!

This year is the ‘Year of Engineering’ but why? Well engineering is a key skill our society needs to thrive in a modern economy and quite frankly it is struggling in the cool career stakes.  Not enough young people, especially girls, believe it is a career for them.  Here at PT Design we love what we do and we truly believe that engineering is a great career path for the next generation.  Research suggests that children start to make career decisions before they leave primary school. We therefore decided to focus our energy on this age group.  We have seen our own children look in awe as our 3D printer builds their designs.  So we know that 3D printing in primary schools is a great way to open children’s eyes to how rewarding an engineering design career can be!

Where to start?

We spoke to our local primary school about our idea and they were immediately keen to make the idea become a reality.  What was important to the school was that the engineering design and 3D printing activity we undertook needed to be fun, age specific and align with the curriculum.

3D printing in primary schools costs money! Unfortunately, primary schools have very small budgets and so our first hurdle was finances.  We could give our time for free but how would we finance enough 3D printers to keep 30 children engaged?  We researched what support was available and found that the Royal Society of Science award Partnership Grants on a yearly basis.  The grants support partnerships between schools and businesses to run science projects.  We were very, very luckily to be successful in receiving a grant that allowed us to purchase the 3D printers for this year’s projects.  The grant also allows us to sustain a STEM partnership with the school for many years to come.

The project – A Spinning Success

We agreed we would talk to the children about engineering and then they would become Design Engineers themselves and design and 3D print fidget spinners.  To begin with we decided to spend a couple of sessions completing the TinkerCAD ‘How to’ lessons.  TinkerCAD is very intuitive and children learn very quickly.  They flew threw the lessons and were soon ready for their own design work.

As with any design project there were elements that the children could design freely.  There were also elements that required specific dimensions and constraints such as the holes for the bearings.  We decided to give the children a design sheet to enable them to gain the basic shape that they could then design from.

The design sheet worked perfectly as it allowed the children to work at their own pace.  We then had sign off sheets that needed to be signed by the Design Engineers themselves and the Senior Designers (AKA Mr Elliot and us!) to ensure that completed designs met the required tolerances.

Please click here to view and download our 3D printing in Primary School design sheets.

The Results

A career in engineering is exciting, rewarding and creative and the children gained real life experience of this through the project.  They loved personalising the fidget spinners, were excited to see the first prototypes come off the printers and had a genuine sense of pride and achievement when they took their designs home.

What Next?

Well we have every intention to continue our partnership with the school next year.  We wish to continue to inspire a new generation of budding Design Engineers and to also embed the printers so they become a piece of equipment that all the children can use as an outlet for their creative side.

How can you help?

We are always looking for inspiration so please do comment if you have any experience or ideas on 3D printing in primary schools that we can try!

3D Design and Printing at St Monica's Primary School, Flixton, Manchester
Using TinkerCAD to design the hole locations for the fidget spinner bearings
3D Printing in Primary Schools- 3D Design and Printing at St Monica's Primary School, Flixton, Manchester
Mr Elliott discussing 3D Design, products and customer requirements!
3D Printing in Primary Schools - 3D Design and Printing at St Monica's Primary School, Flixton, Manchester
The Year 5/6 children evaluating their fidget spinner prototypes
3D Printing in Primary Schools - 3D Design and Printing at St Monica's Primary School, Flixton, Manchester
Using their creativity to adapt their designs
3D Printing in Primary Schools - 3D Design and Printing at St Monica's Primary School, Flixton, Manchester
Using TinkerCAD to ensure they have their fidget spinner bearing holes within the required tolerances.
3D Printing in Primary Schools - 3D Design and Printing at St Monica's Primary School, Flixton, Manchester
The children working through the TinkerCAD lessons.
3D Printing in Primary Schools - 3D Design and Printing at St Monica's Primary School, Flixton, Manchester
Mesmerised as the first prototypes start to print!
3D Printing in Primary Schools - 3D Design and Printing at St Monica's Primary School, Flixton, Manchester
Watching their designs come to life!

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