3D Printing a Smartphone Speaker

My projet has to do with how 3D printed objects can be used as devices for education. Making speakers is a tangible and engaging way for students to come to terms with how sound propagates. I found the following 3D printed design on Thingiverse which I’ve talked about before.

Screen Shot 2014-11-21 at 1.01.38 pm

Created by OrigamiCats on Thingiverse


While the ‘speaker’ phone is a great way to connect with the old turntables of old, you can see a 3D printed object like this might be the culmination of a series of lessons where the ideas of sound are unpacked over a series of lessons.

  • How does sound propagate?
  • Can you draw how you think the sound moves from the smartphone, through your tube and to your ear?
  • Can you design your own speaker?
  • How does the material used influence how sound propagates?
  • What are the limitations of your design?

Getting the students to design the speaker via regular pen and paper would be a good place to start and once the students have a design they are comfortable with, they could then jump onto a 3D graphics program to design their own speaker.

You could then use a device to measure the differences in sound output, to see which device worked best. Have you used 3D printing for anything like this?


3D Printing the World’s Smallest Rubik’s Cube

I will age myself by telling you that I remember when the Rubik’s Cube came out. It was an amazing Christmas gift and I, like many people in the world, had no real idea how to solve it. I remember getting frustrated with it probably sometime in the early new year, and then figured out how to take it apart and ‘fix’ it, rather than solving it 🙂

But now, with 3D printing, boffin Matthew Bahner has recreated the Rubik’s cube, the best selling toy of all time, into large versions (the V-cube) and the smallest cube puzzle in the world at 3.4cm.

Bahner’s V Cube, the original Rubik’s Cube and World’s smallest cube.

While creating earlier versions closer to Rubik’s original, manufacturing issues meant that altering it slightly would make it work. Stickers were created by Olivier’s stickers.

I think this is a great application of 3D printing technology, allowing the revisioning of objects that we have had a particular relationship with. How many times have you thought “If only it could do x, then it would be awesome.” Well, get out there, get access to a 3D printer and see what you can do 🙂


3D Printing to Teach Medicine #3dprinting

One of the first things that got me into 3D printing was the idea that it could be used to teach higher education students. In particular, I thought that the idea that it could be used to teach medical students of the utmost importance. My own undergraduate degree involved a lot of physiology, particularly the nervous system. Of course, like any student, you see diagrams of body parts and systems, but the 2D nature of it all can be hard to translate to the real world.

After studying the brain for some time, I was quite confronted when I first cut into a real sheep’s brain. The textbooks quite specifically differentiate between structures by using colours and thick lines, but when I cut into that sheep’s brain, it was all GREY with tracts of white. So trying to locate one specific part of the brain seemed near impossible 🙂

So the idea that we can print out 3D body parts, with high scale resolution was an amazing proposition. Now we have such high resolution scanning devices such as MRIs, it is possible to produce anatomically correct body parts that can be used by medical students anywhere around the world! This added third dimension will help with the learning process and not just transposing the knowledge from the 2D to the 3D. Check out this interview with Monash University Professor, Paul McMenamin.

Zaniac Learning talks about Education and 3d Printing

zaniac-learningTy Peterson from Zaniac Learning took some time out of his busy schedule to talk to me about 3D printing and their new after-school 3D printing program.

#1 – What was the impetus for the 3D printing program?

We believe that hands-on learning is incumbent to getting kids engaged in math and technology learning in a meaningful way. A creative, hands-on learning environment is essential to our pedagogy, and when we make the classroom experience a fun one, kids walk away wanting to learn more. 3D Printing is a natural fit for this approach.

#2 – How is the program itself structured?

During the school year, all of our programs (including 3D Printing) are structured as 6-week courses, where kids attend 90 minute lessons after school once per week. Each 90 minute lesson focuses on a specific concept or concepts. After each lesson, students are given a Milestone worksheet to show their progress in learning the concepts.

The majority of the coursework focuses on the design process, and we use either 123D Design or Tinkercad depending on the age and comfort level of the student. Kids are introduced to the concept of computer-aided design and the basics behind how the actual print process works. Over the course of the program, our instructors also cover concepts like fill patterns, supports and rafts, scaling, finishing techniques, rotation and mirroring, creative and iterative design, print resolution, print time, photogrammetry, and others. This is all taught using an example heavy, project based lesson guides.

We provide the software, printer, and PLA on sight as part of the cost of the course. Students will walk away from the program with the finished print of their final design creation. No previous experience with CAD or 3D Printing is required and kids as young as 2nd grade can enroll.

#3 – What is the ultimate aim of the 3d printing program? Experience with this new technology? Boosted self-esteem? Understanding of the science of 3d printing?

The aim with 3D Printing, as with all of our programs, is to establish science, technology, engineering, and math as approachable fields, worthy of further study. We aim not only to teach kids specific skills in these areas, but to establish a love of learning that will serve them throughout their educational and professional careers, long after they have left Zaniac.

Experience with this technology first hand demystifies the concepts that are purely theoretical in kids’ normal school settings. What they experience at Zaniac will allow them to approach the concepts they are taught in school with newfound confidence and interest.

#4 – What is the feedback you’ve had from teachers, kids or education bodies?

Our 3D Printing program is very new, so we don’t have a large amount of feedback relating directly to the curriculum. That being said, part of the impetus for launching this program was an oft-voiced interest from our community of parents and students. We have already received attention from various institutions globally who are interested in this type of educational experience, an obvious example being yourself. We look forward to engaging in a dialog and sharing our findings with the educational community as a whole as we learn.

#5 – How has the program changed/evolved over time?

Our very first session of the program is currently in progress, so we are quite literally on version 1. As we collect feedback from parents, students, and instructors over the coming months we will incorporate it to create the best possible curriculum. We fully expect this program to be very popular with students and parents alike.

3D Printing Changing Your Point of View #3DprintingED http://bit.ly/1nxguhQ

I read this article today about 3D Printing Reshaping Universities. Published in 2012, it seems that some universities in the US were already moving to have 3D printers into libraries. The philosophy behind it seems to be that libraries were once a public space where people were able to interact with new technologies. However, in the past, libraries became places of quiet contemplation and books which changed much of this.

Working at a university, the libraries are much different to what they used to be. Whole floors are now dedicated to a community environment where students can come in, interact, use the wi-fi for their assignments or just surfing youtube while sipping coffee.

Opening up 3D printers in universities seems to be a way to bring students of disparate faculties together to try out their design creativity. I really like this notion of breaking down preconceptions about 3D printing and re-conceptualising them from your own perspective. It’s so easy to dismiss something as ‘too hard’ and ‘something I could never do’. I hear this a lot when it comes to science and mathematics and I really want to overcome it with my Pozible allowing teachers to come to terms with the technology of 3D printers, stopping a moment, then considering how they can apply this tool to their profession.

The article talks about students starting out with simple things such a busts of Yoda, or propellers, but further students talked about designing ways that the slowness of 3D printers could be overcome by designing new systems or new ways of printing. A science academic talks about printing molecules as a way for students understanding that molecules have a shape, something that would have greatly added to my understanding of chemistry at the time (and even now). Whatever the case, I suggest you jump into 3D printing and develop your own conception – see where it takes you 🙂


Molecule Jewelry

[Image Credit: http://media.onsugar.com/files/ons1/192/1922507/31_2009/6b04cd3024166a2f_Molecule.preview.jpg%5D


The Invent To Learn Guide to 3D Printing in the Classroom: Recipes for Success

As someone in education, where do you get started, what examples exist of lesson plans for teachers to jump into 3D printing and start playing around. Today, I stumbled across a very interesting book: The Invent To Learn Guide to 3D Printing in the Classroom: Recipes for Success by David Thornburg, Norma Thornburg and Sara Armstrong earlier this year. It comes in print and Kindle versions.

3DP_3D-300x262This book is an essential guide for educators interested in bringing the amazing world of 3D printing to their classrooms. Learn about the exciting technology, powerful new design software, and even advice for purchasing your first 3D printer. The real power of the book comes from a variety of teacher-tested step-by-step classroom projects. Eighteen fun and challenging projects explore science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, along with forays into the visual arts and design. The Invent To Learn Guide to 3D Printing in the Classroom is written in an engaging style by authors with decades of educational technology experience.

The lesson plans range from the simple (Lesson 1 – Backpack Tag) the moderately difficult (Lesson 5 – Fan Powered Cars) and more complicated lessons such as Printing Your Own Fossil (Lesson 12) and Making a Greek Temple (Lesson 17). The lesson plans will take you through different software such as Inkscape, OpenSCAD, Meshlab, Tinkercad, Knitplot, Meshmixer, Sketchup Make and Let’s Create! Pottery.

I’ll be putting down my money for the kindle version, so I’ll no doubt be borrowing their ideas in future blog posts. Have you bought it? Have you used it? Let me know!

Book’s Homepage: http://www.inventtolearn.com/3d-printing-in-the-classroom/

3D Printed version of Frog Dissection

The Frog Dissection lesson seems to be a ubiquitous part of science in high schools. Although I never did it, I did get to dissect sheep’s brains and bull’s eyes. It’s not for everyone, a squeamish process that is often seen as cruel when options such as ‘virtual dissection‘ are available.

Step in 3D printing, with an educational option from Thingiverse. You can freely download the plans for this 3D printed frog and it’s froggy insides.

frog-dissectionfrog2 This lesson would be an interesting examination of the inside aspects of the frog where students and teachers could discuss the function of each individual part, without the mess and fuss of actually killing a frog or the safety requirements of students using scalpels! Small groups could examine each of the frogs organs, looking at how the 3D representation is accurate, where it is not, and how the actual organs would be inter-connected if the frog had actually been alive. Students could then represent their understanding in another form, filling in the conceptual gaps.

I think this would allow an engaging lesson, without the difficulties of real frogs. Check out the plans at Thingiverse.

Using 3D printers in Education: Soil Layer Blocks #3DprintingED

I’m giving myself the challenge to write about different 3D education things people can use in the classroom.

Thingiverse.com is a place where people put their own creations online that people can then download and use. A great place to start when you get a 3D printer, if you’re not confident enough to start crafting your own designs. I suggest you try the section on Learning to find some good examples of 3D printing for education.

Perhaps one of the most unusual projects I found was this one. Soil Layer Blocks by Sean Tikkun.

These four stackable blocks represent the 5 soil layers with tactile discrimination on the face. The design of these blocks is such that a student with a visual impairment can identify a distinguishable trait relative to the layer and demonstrate knowledge by stacking them appropriately. The layers are also designed with relative size relating to each corresponding layer. If any resizing of the models is done, All four need the same ration to maintain the concept integrity and the fitting together. – Sean Tikkun

soil-layer-blocksThe textures would be great for visually impaired students, but also providing a tangible way of examining soil layers. While something like this could be done with layers of paper and other materials, this provides another representation which the students can assemble and discuss the functions of each layer before putting it together. They can break down the functions of each layer, how the representations are correct, what is missing and  if done in conjunction with other representations (e.g. plants, layering paper, drawing) can add to their overall learning.

How would you use this in a classroom? Do you think it adds anything? I’d really like to know about your ideas. Please let me know in the comments section at the top (see the bubble)!

Students Use 3D Printing to Reconstruct Dinosaurs #3DprintingED

Part of this project is about coming up with creative ways to use 3D printing in teaching kids. Simple ideas would be to print out skulls of a variety of animals, which is a great start, but so much more learning could be embedded in 3D printing beyond this.

The video here is a great example. The students are working with the American Museum of Natural History and 3D printers. The students get the opportunity to go behind the scenes, scan (photograph) real fossils, take those photos and put them into 3D software and print out smaller versions of those bones. Then the students have to reconstruct the dinosaurs and then identify which dinosaur it is!

This is a great mixture of learning of the technology and paleontology, giving students room to do their investigations and come to their own ideas about the dinosaurs. Reconstructing the dinosaur is a great idea as students come to terms with the ideas of how the dinosaurs moved, which suggests how the bones go together. Check out the video and let me know if you have any of your own ideas!

Zaniac: 3D Printing after-school program #3DprintingED

For this project, I’m looking at what people are doing at the moment with 3D printers with students. The first program I found was something called Zaniac. They offer after school program in the United States, with a range of different activities revolving around a STEM (Science Technology Engineering Maths) program.

We built Zaniac to engage K-8 students around the world in supplemental science, technology, engineering, and math education – giving them the skills and motivation they need to create a better future. Our programs are designed from the ground up to prioritize fun, active engagement, and an integrated, multi-disciplinary approach to problem solving. – From Zaniaclearning.com

From their website, it looks like the 3D printing program revolves around the students building their own 3D model over a series of lessons and then getting the satisfaction of printing out what they created. Aimed at 4-8 year olds, I think that’s a pretty good beginning at 6x90minute lessons. You could simply download a pre-created model and get going, but I think there’s something fulfilling about creating your own model and learning about 3D printing on your own.

I’ll be checking them out and will let you guys know more!