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Trevor Cain, head of design and technology at The FitzWimarc School, explains how the Dremel 3D45 3D printer has helped breathe new life into his school’s design and technology lessons…
How are you using the device to engage your pupils?
Since we introduced the Dremel printers we’ve seen big increases in the number of pupils choosing to take design and technology at GCSE and A Level. I put that down to two things – the power the printers give pupils to turn their ideas into reality, and the excitement of working with cutting-edge technology.
The Dremel 3D45 has a real ‘wow factor’ with our pupils, which makes my job easier, since the pupils are engaged before we even start printing. We have other 3D printers, but the great design of the Dremel means my pupils always choose it over the others.
What have been your most successful projects?
The Dremel comes into its own as a problem solving tool. Recent projects developed by our A Level students included a humidity level monitor for a lizard’s terrarium, and a buoyancy floating aid that monitors PH levels near coral reefs.
Our students were able to make multiple prototypes of their designs, in a way that they would never have been able to in the past.
This process of designing, prototyping and improving a product is a critical part of how design is done in the real world, enabling our pupils to solve problems and create designs that really work.
What skills does it help to develop?
The most important aspect of 3D printing in the classroom is the opportunity it affords for rapid prototyping. This process helps students get better at using CAD software, by allowing them to see whether their computer designs work as printed objects.
More often than not, their first model won’t work perfectly, prompting students to draw on their problem solving skills in order to improve their designs.
The Dremel printers also encourage independent working. The enclosed design ensures the printer is safe to use, allowing pupils to use the printers in their own time to improve and develop their designs themselves.
Would you recommend it?
The Dremel 3D45 is ideal for use in a school. It’s extremely easy to use, with a clear and intuitive display that makes it straightforward to adjust your print and follow exactly what’s happening and how long the print will take.
One aspect of 3D printers that’s sometimes overlooked are their power as a teaching aid. The printer can be used to make a whole host of classroom tools and teaching aids.
For example, we’d previously use videos to teach our engineering students about pulleys; however, we soon realised that we could print some classroom equipment ourselves, allowing us to provide practical live demonstrations.
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