As part of a Grade 3 and 4 STEM Innovation Lab model, BFA is building skills and capacity through the development of 3D Printing Experts.
When a few Grade 4 students were asked if they would be interested in assuming the role of becoming “3D Printing Experts” they jumped at the opportunity. After a couple of demonstrations and lots of determination, these students have successfully taken over the complex task of printing all 3D designs created by their classmates. It is not uncommon to see one (or all of them) racing into the Innovation Lab throughout the day to see if there are new projects ready to print, to check the status of a print job they started earlier in the day or to just check in to determine what they can expect for upcoming projects.
The group of students has also worked on developing problem solving skills through this program. If something doesn’t go as planned, they proceed to troubleshoot and then reach out to adults as a last resort if the issue is not able to be resolved. There are numerous variables that contribute to successfully printing such a wide-range of projects in 3D. In the planning stages, the team was unsure if this task could ever be completely turned over to students, however, they managed to exceed our expectations.
Finally, these kids have begun to develop their leadership skills as well. The current Grade 4 experts are now shifting to cross-training a couple of Grade 3 students with the hopes of “passing the torch” as they move up in grades. This will also enable them time to become familiar with the more complex 3D Printers that are available in our Middle School.
Over the course of the last few months, these Grade 4, and now Grade 3, students have demonstrated self-direction, practical problem solving skills and leadership skills while becoming a tremendous asset to our Innovation Lab and our team of teachers.
Rhonda Siemons is the Technology Integrationist at BFA Middle and Elementary School.