Essential question: How can 3D printing change the way we think about education?


This is a cool topic!! But honestly, I don’t really understand it, because I have never really seen it. The following video by Armand Valdes gives a good explanation on what it is and how it has and can be used.

3-D printing in school is not a bad idea. Leapfrog 3D Printers are an affordable and useful tool for schools that can be incorporated into several subjects. I can see it being used in science, math, and even literacy. The authors of On a mission to help schools uncover the benefits of 3D printing for teaching state it can be used for:

  • Capturing interest of students
  • Stimulating interaction during class
  • Creating tangible aids
  • Hands on learning through 3D models

Linda Federico-O’Murchu (2014) has the same views with some drawbacks. She states that beyond the elementary classroom 3D printers are creating body parts, useful items, and even food. On the down side it is also being used to create weapons, and the international implications of copy right infringement are on the bubble.

However in the classroom, I see a use for the tool, and it might not be directly in the classroom but in the school. A 3D printer can ignite the imagination of students by creating the object they man not be able to hold and feel (Airwolf 3D, 2013). Engineering students can draw and use CAD designs to create something on a computer, but until a mold was designed, and the product was produced, the student could not see if it was a relevant idea or not. Now they can print it, work out the bugs, and create a prototype without a third party to wait on. High school students can now print samples of their work to include in an application to universities for engineering degrees. Science students can print 3D molecular models and fine art students can 3D print real life examples of their designs (2013).

3D models can teach students about production techniques and cost effective models for use in the real world.

On the elementary side, I can see this being more valuable in science and creation. If you have a maker space and you need a specific gear or part to make something work and it is not available, you can print it. For science projects, students can print the necessary items for a robot that may not be purchasable on the market yet. But in the long run, the printer could be used for thought provoking uses and spatial reasoning capabilities.   There are students that do not understand the working of a small machine, how gears work in conjunction to size and shape, and a printer could be used to blow that model up so they can see the why of the operation.

In the report by Linda Frederico-O’Murchu she makes a lot of pros and cons for the use of 3D printers, but I feel the pros outweigh the cons by a landslide. No matter what the invention, there will always be a seedy side to it. Crooks and thieves will always try to manipulate the good for bad, and that is just the society we live in. The benefits of 3D printing are still in its infancy as far as I am concerned. The printers will no doubt be a thing of the future and not a fad. As prices fall and units become more affordable, the use in the classroom will grow. A student that can print the bones of an animal will no longer need to kill that animal for experiments. A student that can print a robot base for a rover will no longer have to find materials, and build something that may or may not work.

We know that 3D printers will never be able to create precious metals from plastic and that it will not replace all production in the world. However, in the classroom I think it might be the difference between knowing and understanding what something is and how it works.


Airwolf 3D (2013, February 27). 3D PRINTERS IN THE CLASSROOM: 7 REASONS WHY EVERY SCHOOL SHOULD HAVE A 3D PRINTER. (Web log comment). Retrieved from

Federico-O’Murchu, L. (2014, May 11). How 3-D printing will radically change the world. TechEdge. Retrieved from

Leapfrog 3D printers (2015). Retrieved from

Valdes, A. [Video file]. Retrieved from



  1. tmerculief · July 1, 2015

    John- I think it is cool as well but I have never seen it either. Well I guess it is can create anything they can create weapons as well. Food! that is just crazy I can’t even think t know how that would taste. I don’t know if I would try that. That is a good point that in a makerspace that if you needed a part just print it. I wonder how durable the part would be though. Would it last or work for what you are using it for. I do see them coming to the classroom once the prices fall. It would be exciting to see them print. I think I would be as excited as the kids.


  2. jnyboy1131 · July 2, 2015

    Thank you for the comment!! I do believe that most things printed (gears, plates, tools) are durable, I have seen videos of gun parts printed and used on the range. As for the food, I am with you, I don’t know if I would eat it either. I would love to see one working like you, I think I would be as amazed as well.


  3. mschmitt13 · July 3, 2015

    I like the idea of including the printer in a makerspace or as a center for if students finish work early. I could easily see that turning into a contest of who gets to use the printer first, but it is more ideal and cost effective as a way to get one of the devices in the door. I know many students who would relish in being able to create their own designs from scratch and watching their creations print out into something they can touch (instead of drawing it on a piece of paper). There are many ways to tie the printer to various subjects and have students work collaboratively to print things.


    • jnyboy1131 · July 4, 2015

      I agree with your post. Kids rush as it is, now add something cool…. I do agree that the benefit of printing your idea into a tangible object is pretty neat. I also agree that there are a lot of subjects to tie this in and for children to work collaboratively.


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