David Romano is a third grade teacher for Rio Schools. He has incorporated the MOD-t into his classroom, using it to expand his lessons on geometry and engineering or using it to print basic classroom necessities like attendance markers.
How long have you been 3D printing?
I have been 3D printing for about 2 years. I had applied for the New Matter Grant Program but was not a winner. Then at the National CUE Convention, I talked with my Superintendent about trying out the MOD-t with my students. He said yes for a pilot.
What initially interested you about 3D printing?
I love how you can create anything, within reason, with a 3D printer. If I need a tool or bracket for my house or classroom, we can make it and print it. I also love that you can really expand lessons, such as geometry, using a 3D printer.
Have you used a 3D printer before the MOD-t?
The MOD-t was my first time using a 3D printer. I had played around with Tinkercad before, but never printed anything out.
How is the user experience of the MOD-t?
The MOD-t was very simple to get using right away. I was able to set it up and get a test print going right away. The New Matter Store slicer made printing my projects very easy. Using the base settings allowed me to get prints going fast. The addition of more advanced controls allowed me to make adjustments to my prints. I love this feature because I can talk with students about infill and structural integrity or wall thickness and how that will affect what we print.
How has the MOD-t changed the atmosphere of your classroom?
The students in my class love to use the MOD-t. The MOD-t has its own place in my classroom that all students can see. This way, whenever there is a print running, the students can see it happening. The MOD-t is always easily accessible for whenever we need to us it. 3D printing has become a part of my lessons and my classroom culture.
How have you incorporated the MOD-t into your classroom curriculum?
I try to use 3D printing and the MOD-t in almost every subject. In Math, we use it to talk about geometry, measurements, and angles. In science, we have designed models to demonstrate engineering and models of real world objects. In my class, we also use 3D printing to discuss commerce and the cost of making objects. My third-grade students understand how to calculate how much a 3D print would cost in PLA materials using the weight of the object and how much each gram of PLA costs. During our weekly STEAM Friday time, a time set aside each week for student projects. We have used Tinkercad and the MOD-t to create classroom tools or even simple supports for a paper tower. Whenever I can incorporate the MOD-t and digital 3D design into a lesson, I do.
In what ways do you believe your students have benefitted from having access to a 3D printer in the classroom?
My students now know there is more than one way to solve a problem. I try to create critical thinkers and problem solvers in my class. When I tell people that I have third graders 3D printing, they stare at me in amazement. The ability to teach students how to problem solve and redesign using CAD programs and a 3D printer has made my students better at diagnosing problems and solving them. I look at it this way, I am teaching students to perform a task or a job that has not been invented or created yet. To do this, I must give them as much foundational information as possible, but I must also empower them to be able to find information and problem solve on their own. Using the MOD-t and 3D printing has allowed me to attempt to do this with my students.
What do you think the coolest project/ object you or your students have made with the MOD-t?
One of the coolest things I ever printed was the hairy lion. I used it as a way to explain how the printer can bridge and print in the air. This helped students understand how they need to design objects before they print it. I was also able to create modified wall brackets to hang a storage solution for headphones. My students loved being able to make personalized key chains, as well as a fidget spinner or two. We printed little traffic cones to use with our Sphero robots. Our Attendance markers were also made using the MOD-t. When one goes missing, we just print another!