My grade 11 students spent a week in December designing model toys using TinkerCAD software and the 3D printer. Some students took to the process fluidly and created much more complex sculptures than I dreamed possible for a first time project in the new medium. Each toy took about an hour to print, and then students painted them in acrylic to complete their designs.
In my grant proposal I budgeted $500 for a 3-D printer - I knew that would allow me to get an entry level printer since many sell in the $400 range now (I was looking at a model like this one). Since receiving the grant I did a lot of research about which printer to get. The more I learned the more I wondered if the school had funds to add to our initial investment, thus supporting us getting an even better printer. Ms. Bitner and Ms. Handwork both said they’d use a printer in their respective robotics and drafting classes, so I knew a demand for a 3-D printer existed in our school.
Yesterday Randy from Wave of the Future 3D came out to Warman to give us a 3-D printing demo and answer all of our questions. Cool side note: his company is known for 3-D printing the largest object in the world out of recycled pop bottles (a camper trailer). The machines he sells are clearly advanced. They have a warm bed, which means the print sticks to it, they have a large printing area, and they print a wide variety of filament. My research centred around plastic filament (PLA) but Randy explained how the industry is now making filaments that include: wood fibre filament (porus), nylon (bendable), silver-nitrate infused filament (it stops bacteria growing), steel, etc. The PLA he stocks is made out of cornstarch and sugar, which Randy informed us composts in 42 days. I love that he recycles old projects so that it doesn’t hurt the environment. The machines run on minimal power and consumes about the same energy as a small lightbulb. The possibilities are endless.
The demo was great, and I feel so good about buying local from Randy as it’s nice to know that when we have questions (or run into technical difficulties) there’s a real person who can help us troubleshoot and who is willing to come and service the machine.
These are some of the key STEAM projects we will be focusing on this year:
Sarah Gerrard teaches Visual Arts 9-12 at Warman High School. She recently received a grant from the Prairie Spirit Schools Foundation to infuse her courses with STEAM.