Oct.19, 2013

Thousands of teachers in UK will be trained to use 3D printing technology in lessons to ensure that pupils get valuable skills for jobs in the engineering industry.

3D printing is already an established industrial technology used for prototyping and manufacturing products and components across a range of industries. But it is a new concept in schools. In 2012 to 2013 the Department for Education in UK looked to explore new and innovative ways of teaching science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and design subjects that realise the full potential of 3D printers in the classroom.

In 2012 the Department for Education funded a project to allow 21 state secondary schools to use the 3D printers in STEM and design and technology classes.

Following the success of that trial, UK wants now to bring the 3D printing technology into more schools.

Education Secretary Michael Gove revealed today that a £500,000 fund was now being established to enable up to 60 teaching schools can buy 3D printers and train teachers to use them effectively. The funding covers the rest of this academic year and 2014 to 2015.

Michael Gove said:"3D printers are revolutionising manufacturing and it is vital that we start teaching the theory and practice in our schools. Teaching schools will be able to develop and spread effective methods to do this. Combined with our introduction of a computer science curriculum and teacher training, this will help our schools give pupils valuable skills."

It is the latest stage in the government's series of reforms to improve standards in hi-tech subjects. This includes the introduction of a new curriculum for computing which will ensure primary school pupils learn to write computer programs, and a new design and technology curriculum, backed by inventor Sir James Dyson, which specifically mentions 3D printers and robotics, so that more are prepared for their jobs.

A report into the pilot said that so far in the UK, the technology had been restricted largely to design and technology classes but that there was "considerable potential for them to be used within a range of STEM subjects, for example to enable links to be made between mathematics, design and physics in a similar way to, for example, 'sound' enabling links between music, physics (wave properties), biology (hearing) and engineering (concert hall design)."

The pilot schools reported that early work with the printer was often limited to demonstrations and printing of small files such as 3D shapes. This highlighted the need for good training of teachers, said Department for Education.

Examples of how the printers were used included:

- science departments used the 3D printer as a context to discuss the properties of plastics, to build models for teaching science such as molecules, eyeballs, cells and sine waves, and to build components for working equipment such as rockets

- at Watford Grammar School for Boys the printer was used to demonstrate a 3D graph for various algebraic equations as well as producing examples of regular shapes (dodecahedron)

- Honywood Community Science School in Essex designed an advanced 3D development learning tool, enabling pupils to create 3D objects using typed code in POV-Ray3. This enabled pupils to practise writing and debugging code and also supported studying algebra and understanding 3D/2D space

David Jermy, the head of design and technology at Settlebeck High School, in Sedbergh, Cumbria, said:"All the pupils who have been involved with the 3D printer so far have been inspired by its possibilities. The opportunity to realise a concept or idea quickly into a 3D product is an incredibly powerful teaching tool."

James Brady, head of technology at Simon Langton Girls' Grammar School, in Canterbury, Kent, said:"With the printer carrying out the 'production' of objects, more time can be spent considering the science and mathematics involved in design. One pupil stated that the 3D printer had heightened her interest in mathematics and improved her desire to learn. Subsequently she commented that it improved her level of achievement."

Posted in 3D Printing Technology



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