Remember those lessons in school where teachers enthusiastically described topics from a text book? Photos were the only real way to gauge an understanding of the topic along with a vivid, wandering imagination. Well lessons are changing with schools starting to adopt 3dprinting technology in the classroom. Sometimes in lessons you just did not get the topic, you couldn’t imagine it in your mind and ultimately you did not fully learn about it, this is where 3dprinting can be most powerful. The Smithsonian museum in Washington DC has started scanning in it artefacts and making them available to download for 3dprinting. They are free and anyone can access them (click on the image below). Image the situation, you are a teacher and want to bring a lesson to life with physical replicas of artefacts that relate to your lesson. Now you can just download and then 3dprint the model. Suddenly a lesson that might have been a bit on the flat side can come to life with actual physical examples for students to study and exam. Maybe you are a parent and your child has been given the homework task to create a presentation on the history of dinosaurs. How impressive would it be to 3dprint of a T-Rex at home and then present it in class?
The best thing about 3dprinting and education is that many museums and organisations are starting to scan in their exhibits and store digital copies of their artefacts. Recently, the Historic Royal Palaces scanned and 3dprinted Henry VIII’s crown and made it available for the public to download through Thingiverse. Image the lesson where elementary school students learn about the infamous royal and then actually get chance to wear his crown in class because the teacher had 3D printed out the model the night before. Learning can now really be enhanced through the integration of 3dprinting into lessons.
More recently, the Science Museum in London opened an exhibition called ‘3d Printing the Future’ with the aim of educating visitors about the benefits of 3dprinting. Museums can sometimes be frustrating places when viewing exhibitions. Everything is always out of touching distance behind glass panels, when really you want to grab hold of the object and get some tactile feedback. Now this is possible by exhibiting 3dprinted replicas of the artefacts and allowing visitors to interact with displays. What’s the worst thing that could happen? A 3dprinted replica breaks, then you can just print another one! I have heard people use the term ‘3dprinting, the future is here’. In this case we can say with ‘3dprinting, the past is here’.