I had over a hundred of these animals, and soon I started painting the plain ones myself. Interestingly enough, the ones I painted myself soon became my favourites... if you didn't count the invisible ones.
Because the best things I had were actually not visible. I had purple monsters, flying horses, giant catapults, ships and cars that were out of this world... and all of them invisible. I waged incredible battles against mighty dragons, but no one would ever see them. I could draw my creations on paper, but comparing with how realistic the miniatures were, my imagination had to fill in the blanks.
The concept that someone - a human being somewhere - had created those miniatures I was playing with, never even crossed my mind.
What if I had access to a 3D printer when I was a child? What would have happened to my ability to create? To my confidence as an artist, to my sense of entrepreneurship (I already sold guavas from the front door -- could I have sold miniatures? Would I have created machines? Toys? Jewelry?)
But when you look at STEAM, that's where 3D printing really shines.
Testing the design before committing becomes much easier, and frankly, more meaningful and exciting for the student. Not only limited by their drawings and software, students now have a chance of actually seeing their design come to life. They also have a chance at experimenting with prototypes before they finalize their piece. Like teacher Ron Smith describes on this article from EdTech, “It’s important that they learn to do technical drawings and to use the Inventor software, but when you make it come to life with the 3D printer and they can touch it and feel it, they want to do more and learn more.”
3D printing has this possibility: it can bridge the learning between the theory, the "what if" and actual concrete testing and engineering. Empowered by a world where everything they can dream of is possible, students can use the printers to explore real world problems, for instance, like these students who decided to fix the squirty water problem that happens when you use a bottle of ketchup. 3D printing fits perfectly with the Maker model of learning, which transforms students from users of content into creators of content; from observers and users of engineering to actual engineers and tinkerers.
When your classroom has access to 3D printing, what are you going to do to expand your students' learning? I have already started collecting some ideas, like the seven projects on the file below. I am very excited about the prospect that 3D printing brings to the table.
And, of course, my inner child can't wait to explore alongside my students!