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Bringing STEM to the Elementary Classroom Through 3D Printing

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Keywords: 3D Printing, Augmented Reality, AR, CAD, Google SketchUp, Makers, 3D Printer, Google
Subject(s): Technology, Science, Reading, Math, English/Language Arts
Grades 4 through 5
NETS-S Standard:
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Research and Information Fluency
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Technology Operations and Concepts
View Full Text of Standards
School: Ardmore Elementary School, St Clr Shores, MI
Planned By: Elizabeth Willoughby
Original Author: Elizabeth Willoughby, St Clr Shores
A town named Willingdon has just decided to create a community center dedicated to helping people in the town. The mayor of the community is searching for young, creative, and brilliant architects who can build a community center in Willingdon.

Your challenge is to design an original model of a community center that can serve the needs of citizens using three-dimensional shapes. The mayor will need to see your plans, measurements, and a model in order to consider using your design.

The community center must stand up on its own and should include the use of at least 3 different three-dimensional shapes. You must convince the mayor that the building will serve the community in positive ways to help people in need. You must complete the challenge within six class periods. You will be given a budget of 50 Willingdon dollars to complete this challenge.

Engineering Design: Introduce students to the Engineering Design Cycle.

Task Identification: Ask students to identify the problem they need to solve.

Specifications/Constraints: Ask students to ID specs/constraints.

Develop Knowledge: The building must contain three different geometric solids. Review geometric solids and explore 3D shapes (polyhedrons, prisms, pyramids).

Ideate Solutions: Students are challenged to think of many solutions to the challenge. Design Sketch #1/Justify Design #1/Design Sketch #2/Justify Design #2

Build Prototype: Sketch/Share/Reflect

Developing More Knowledge: Discuss volume, surface area, partake in volume and surface area activities in CAD software

Refine Design: Refine Community Center design

Evaluate Design: Comment on two other groups' designs. Did they meet specs? Attach CAD file to a trigger image and view in Augmented Reality before final print.

Final Solution: Construct final solution on 3D printer.

Extension Questions: How does the base area of an extruded figure relate to the volume of the extruded figure? What are the similarities and differences of a cone and a pyramid? Compare/Contrast two three-dimensional shapes.

The printer is the actual digital fabricator. The printer is equipped with software, although we plan to use Google SketchUp as it will carry over to classes offered in the middle and high schools.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
Infuse STEM standards, utilizing digital fabrication, into ELA and social studies. Students will identify a societal need and create a product that may be in demand. Students will collaborate in the development of the product and write a proposal to the class. (Again, students will utilize the design process as well as the PBL process.) Only one product will be chosen. When a product is decided upon, groups will compete for best design. Groups will also be responsible for marketing the product by writing a description that will appeal to the targeted consumer. Again, a winner will be chosen. The finished product will be placed on Ebay, providing an authentic experience for the students.
Students will create a model skateboard park. Using the PBL and design process, students will be presented with a series of problems requiring engineering, science and math skills. Ramps will require specified speeds controlled by inclines and ramp shape. Miniature skateboards sold in retail stores will be used for testing.
Links: Video I made utilizing Augmented Reality
Materials: Electronics
Other Items: 1 FlashForge 3D printer dual extruder w/2 ABS spools , $1200 each, total of $1200.00