3D printers, laser cutters, CNC machines and CAD programs…this is no ordinary classroom but the Fab Lab at Marymount, an all-girls independent school in New York. Fifth-grade students Katie, Li Li and Mei are designing Egyptian Antiquities in a digital design and fabrication class led by teacher Jaymes Dec. But their enthusiasm goes far beyond the school curriculum; in their spare time the girls are busy creating animals, houses, imaginary places and gadgets.
The Fab Lab was installed at the school during the fall of 2011, Dec has since been teaching students from grades four to eight how to design and make things using a wide variety of fabrications machines. The motivation for the class emerged from his own time as a student. “I was always bored in school”, Dec says. ”It wasn't until I got home and got to tinker in my basement and in the woods that I really enjoyed learning. I'm trying to bring this experience into schools.”
Dec explains his approach to teaching: “My teaching style is pretty hands off. I approach technology class like it's an art class. I prefer to introduce a tool and let kids explore and figure things out on their own. Tinkercad is perfect for this.”
For the 5th graders 3D design and 3D printing go hand in hand. Printing the models is a great way to demonstrate what can actually be manufactured and is a good opportunity to teach technical terms like overhangs, scale and solid geometry.
As 3D printing technology is becoming mainstream, Dec thinks it is really important to teach kids about the tools they'll need to solve tomorrow's problems. “I believe that the future will require more engineers, scientists, and designers.”
Get inspired by the great designs Li Li, Mei and Katie have done with Tinkercad.
Penguin's last stand by Li Li.
Tape dispenser by Katie.