3D classroom – with 3D!

How can you use 3D printers in your science classroom?
— S., Alabama


Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) projects are the first thing that comes to my mind when I think about using 3D printers. You could have students design and fabricate parts for robots and other projects. There are many websites that share object files for printing difficult parts like battery holders, gears, chassis, and so on.

Other physics-related/STEM design ideas:

  • Small cars for kinematics and dynamics experiments
  • Catapults and trebuchets
  • Wind generators: start with windmills then attach them to small electric motors.
  • Pan flutes, recorders or whistles. Have students calculate lengths to get frequencies they want.
  • Center of gravity: create objects that balance on a point.

For chemistry, students could create 3D representations of the abstract and unseen aspects of the atomic world. Before you print them, make sure you compare the cost to purchasing molecular kits. In time, you could build up your stock of models so all your students can have manipulatives. Some design ideas:

  • Molecular models
  • Bohr model representations with perhaps 3D orbitals
  • s, p, d, f electron orbitals
  • Small containers or coolers to minimize heat transfer.
  • Prototype tools to handle simulated dangerous chemicals

A 3D printer can enhance students’ learning of a host of biochemicals, structures and functions in biology, such as DNA, enzymes, replication, transcription, translation, cell membranes, cells, nephrons, and hearts!

Hope this helps!

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