They look at the importance of supporting students' interest in CAD and CAM technology and discuss some of the dynamics about how this interest can be made highly visible to other students in the school; particularly as the students referred to were making objects like name tags and tablet holders that were then used within the school. We have seen this dynamic at play after our incursion workshops, or at least heard reports from the teachers, of primary school students taking turns parading their 3D printed house designs around the school yard to show other students. The article makes it clear that, with the right mix of facilities and guidance, the students themselves can become the driving force towards greater engagement with the technology, with a few keen early adopters lighting a fire under the rest of the student population.
Another interesting angle that the article explores is the way in which 3D printing can cross over from design and technology to other areas of the curriculum, such as maths, science, art and the humanities. It also discusses how the barriers to this kind of cross-pollination are lowering all the time, particularly as new types of CAD software appear (often at no cost) that enable both teachers and students to learn to design objects that can be printed. An example of this that we really like is the fabulous Tinkercad. It's fully browser-based, so there is nothing to install, and it comes complete with a range of fun tutorials to get you started.
The article also mentions the fact that the costs around 3D printing technology are diving rapidly. We posted a blog article recently after purchasing a 3D printer for a little over AUD$100. It's a Kickstarter thing, for which we are going to have to wait about a year to get our hot little hands on, but it's a portent of things to come. Today, a school that is willing to shell out a couple of grand can get started with some highly capable tools and can set their students on a path into their future.