The Bright Minds initiative returns for 2014
The impact of 3D printing is being felt across the personal and professional spaces on a global scale, thanks in part to the heightened visibility for the technologies in recent years. Of these, the education sector is perhaps the most important for the continued growth and vitality of the industry, the technologies and the positive impacts that are being seen. TCT checked in with some of the stakeholders to monitor the impact.
For many years TCT Show + Personalize has harnessed students’ natural curiosity, the generosity of the 3D printing industry and the platform of the event itself to help educate the next generation about 3D technologies. Over the last couple of years the Bright Minds UK programme has expanded thanks to a strong partnership with Black Country Atelier (BCA), 3D Systems and show organisers Rapid News.
The 2013 edition saw some 300 students take part in interactive courses designed to complement their existing STEM curriculum right at the heart of the event floor. With the generous donation of equipment from 3D Systems and the expert tuition of BCA the students had opportunity to learn about 3D printing in a hands-on fashion before heading out to the expansive exhibition to look more closely at a selection of the nearly 200 exhibitors and their wares.
TCT caught Darren Lyon (DL), Headmaster at the Sir Thomas Fremantle School to see what impact 3D printing is having in education.
TCT: How did you hear about the Bright Minds UK initiative?
DL: We heard about it through BCA with whom we have a close working relationship. Our students all follow a bespoke 3D design and manufacture course and we are keen to ensure that they are exposed to the very latest developments and ideas around 3D technologies.
TCT: What was your knowledge of 3D printing before Bright Minds UK?
DL: I had been aware of the emergence of 3D technology but was not entirely sure how we could incorporate this into the school curriculum. We were determined that 3D printing should be embedded into our curriculum rather than added as an interesting gimmick. The opportunity to see what others are doing through Bright Minds UK ensures that we remain at the cutting edge and that and that our students are able to see what is possible and how it relates to future careers.
TCT: How has 3D printing impacted your curriculum (or would it, if that were possible?)
DL: As a school we are determined that girls and boys are equally drawn to STEM opportunities and 3D technologies provide an excellent vehicle for this.
Whilst we see the development of the skills needed as vital to our IT curriculum, we also see it contributing to the wider school curriculum. We are already using the technology to aid our craft and design work. As an Easter-based piece of work, year 8 students designed efficient packaging for a Cadbury’s creme egg in maths. One group designed the package using 3D design software and printed their finished design.
Science, geography and history teachers are looking at how to use the technology to bring their areas to life, particularly by printing 3D artefacts that can then be handled by students in a way that originals never could be. We also see the development of this technology as supplementing our whole school approach to STEM delivery. A number of students have also aided school fundraising by designing and manufacturing 3D badges for sale at school events.
TCT: How do you see the in-house teaching / use of 3D printing developing?
DL: We currently work very closely with BCA who have written schemes of work and individual lesson plans. These then contribute to an accredited qualification that we expect all students to achieve. One of our teachers has been shadowing BCA to enable her to deliver the course herself next year. Other teachers will train over the coming months. It is also our intention to expand the number of 3D printers we have and even have one in maths and science.
TCT: Have any of the students expressed an interest in manufacturing / engineering since you've introduced 3D Printing to your school?
DL: We have a number of students who are already looking at how they can pursue careers in manufacturing and engineering. A group of girls who had previously not shown much interest in IT have taken an interest in designing shoes and jewellery. Other students are looking at how 3D technologies can be used in building design and town planning. One of our year 7 students is even building a 3D printer from a kit.
If you know of a school that would be interested in participating in the 2014 edition of Bright Minds UK — please contact Jing Lu (email@example.com)