Ninth Grade Students Create a 3-D Printed Biographical Timeline of WWII
Posted on August 5, 2015 by Scot Allen
BY HANNAH ROSE MENDOZA
Often times when a teacher tells a student that they are going to be doing a fun assignment, the students know that whatever is next is going to be a lot of work. In this case, that was definitely true, but so was the part about it being fun. Ninth grade humanities teacher Heather Calabro, at Mid-Pacific Institute, was trying to teach her students in the MPX program about WWII by asking them to engage in a multi-stepped project resulting in a 3-D printed artifact. Student Isabel Velazquez explained excitedly:
"It was a great learning experience to imagine that you were in the historical figure's shoes and also to create something in your mind that was then printed so you could hold it in your hand."
The first stage of this project was the research. Students were given the task of learning about an important event in WWII and then also asked to understand that event through the eyes of a figure that played a prominent role in the event. After steeping themselves in this information - and writing an MLA formatted paper about it and making an accompanying video - they were then asked to design an artifact that was representative of that particular event. Student Dan Wong described his perception of the project:
"The process of learning, step by step, the programs and then seeing your creation come out of the 3-D printer was cool! I also really liked how we got to dive deep into a WWII event that particularly interested us."
In order to create this artifact, the students first had to learn to use SketchUp by completing tutorials as homework and visiting the school's tech lab during class time under the supervision of the school's tech specialist, Tony Johansen. After creating their 3-D models using the school's MakerBot 3-D printers, the students then printed their models and arranged them chronologically into a 3-D printed timeline. Each model was also assigned a QR code that linked to the essay and video created by the student. This was done by using the MPX9 WWII Stories app created by the school's Chief Innovation Officer Brian Dote. This way, visitors could scan the codes and pull up information relate to the artifact.
Calabro discussed the project in an interview:
"It was great to use the 3-D printers on campus in an interdisciplinary way. The project incorporated elements of design, history, language arts, and technology that engaged the students throughout the process. The students were so excited to create WWII artifacts from scratch and then see them come to life through the 3-D printer."
Despite all of the work involved, the students really did seem to find the project very enjoyable. As well as gaining an in-depth understanding about a particular aspect of WWII, their engagement with technology left them skilled in the use of SketchUp and with an introductory knowledge of 3-D printing. Given the prevalence of these types of technologies in all levels of school and work life, this will prepare them to become even more proficient in the future.
Given the earlier and earlier integration of technology such as 3-D printing in curricula around the world, we will most likely see more of this type of project in the future. Being able to integrate 3-D printing as simply another tool, among many, available to educators really helps to expand the connectivity of the students and the relationships that exist among many different ways of knowing. No longer does everything have to result in a paper or a test... making is also knowing!