Here's an example of how 3D printing can be used in primary schools to develop mathematical skills. Recently, one of the children in my class brought in some 3D shapes that her dad had printed on his 3D printer at home. After chatting to her a bit about it, I got in touch with her dad and asked if he'd be interested in putting his 3D printer to good use for the benefit of the school.
He agreed to printing out a 3D small model for each child in the year 5 class, so we got to work designing some 3D shapes. We offered to pay for the "ink" but he didn't want any money as apparently this doesn't cost a lot.
The children used a free online app called TinkerCAD, which is really child friendly, and each child created an account and started to design their own shapes.
Below is an image of the interface after you've first open the online app:
The idea is that you drop in basic 3D shapes and then manipulate them to create a finished model. Here's an example model below:
Maths skills applied
During the course of the lessons, we looked at many different elements of primary school maths, (predominantly shape, space and measure) including:
- properties of 3D shapes
- cubic centimetres
Here are some of our finished designs:
The children were delighted with their designs and we used the experience as a writing stimulus, with the whole class writing a letter to the parent to thank him for the experience.