Teaching & Learning in 3-D

Teaching & Learning in 3-D

The computers are their easel's.

The mouse, a paintbrush.

And a new 3-D printer the vessel bridging concepts with reality.

Instead of updating statuses on Facebook, student's in Mrs. Hettler's technology classes are building models of their school and printing tokens for businesses.

I asked 8th grader Brittani Bentley what her friends think about the class.

"Some of my friends think it's weird, because I guess they're not used to it. I just say it's cool and I like it, and that's what matters to me." Bentley said.

Eighth grader Zachary Otto explained just how this works.

"With apps like Sketchup and Tinkercad, the computer sends to the Cubify web based app and it sends it to the printer," Otto said.

A token would take about 20 minutes to print on a 3-D printer, but a more intricate column would take 3 hours. And provided you have the right software and a picture of yourself, you can create your own action figure.

Mrs. Hettler encourages students to really get to know the software, and unlock the printable possibilities.

"This is a good opportunity to decide in a non-threatening environment, do I really like doing this, or do I really hate this," Hettler said.

And some of those possibilities seek to solve the problems facing the world.

Take the case of Addison Case, and her robot.

"My robot is built to pick up medical waste, and it relates to the 3-D printer because you can make stuff for it to pick up." Case said.

Students also have a robot that aims to make agriculture easier. They can use the 3-D printer to print legos, that can be used on the robot.

"Anything that's new in technology, that we can expose our kids to, that's really what we want to do," Hettler explained.

The 3-D printer cost around $1500, and has been up and running for the last few weeks. Students said they love how a small school like theirs can provide big learning opportunities through technology.

We also reached out to Frank Murray with the Wichita Falls ISD Information Technology Department.  He said 3-D printers are becoming crucial aides in learning in area schools. WFISD has three of the printers, that have assembled everything from full car engines to prosthetic arms.

Dave Caulfield, Newschannel 6