I have a new project that I will share with you as it develops. I think it will serve as another great example of why 3D printing is so important for students and schools.
Meet Sierra, a 10-year-old girl who is getting ready for a Science Fair and wants to show how 3D printers can help humans and animals who need limbs. I have volunteered to help her with her project. I’ll send her some assembly materials kits so she can make her own 3D printed prosthetic hands. The photo above shows her first “Cyborg Beast” e-NABLE Hand printing with the help of a local 3D print shop.
Sierra’s mom described Sierra’s feelings about this project:
“She is so incredibly excited about this project. She goes to sleep talking about it and wakes up asking what we have to do next…”
“Her enthusiasm for this project has ignited interest in 3D printing in her classmates as well as her teacher. I’m sure her teacher would be interested in turning this into a class project (probably for next school year since we are winding down).”
Well, I’m excited too! I’ll speak with Sierra and her mom via Skype soon, and I hope to speak with her teacher as well. Maybe I can help Sierra’s teacher get a class project going and eventually maybe even a whole curriculum for 3D printing!
3D printing is an amazing technology, and children in particular seem to recognize the potential. I’ve seen my own son’s eyes light up when he realized he could have an idea and turn it into a physical object overnight. I’ve had other people bring their kids over to see our 3D printers and talk about how it works. Within minutes, these kids become engaged in a way we don’t see often enough these days.
We adults grew up in a world where companies make the products, and the rest of us are just consumers. Our children will grow up in a world where we are all co-creators. They seem to recognize this potential intuitively and get genuinely excited about it. Our educational system desperately needs something like 3D printing to provide a more practical education that can truly engage kids.
The power of 3D printing to engage is why I’ve been so excited to see students, teachers and schools getting involved in 3D printing, specifically in 3D printing prosthetic devices. Most schools with more than a couple thousand students are likely to have at least one student with an upper limb difference. Students in that school can work together to make a new hand for someone they know — and learn all about 3D printing along the way!
Here are some videos showing students involved with 3D printing. Notice how genuinely interested and engaged they seem:
- Texas High Schoolers Create Hand for Toddler
- Illinois High School Class Uses 3D Printer to Build Hand for 9-Year-Old
- 3D printers expand learning for students
- UWM Spotlight on Excellence: Shea’s new hand
Today, I received the following update from Sierra’s mom, Lianne:
“I just got back from an EdTech conference, and 3D printing was a VERY popular subject. Sierra has also attracted some big attention to her project, and it looks like some Ed Tech leaders in VT will interview her. The Keynote speaker described this exact kind of learning and how it needs to be more evident in schools if we are going to keep kids engaged. Very cool!”
Very cool, indeed!
I have two assembly kits ready to send to Sierra tomorrow:
Each kit includes all of the assembly materials needed to make a 3D printed “Cyborg beast” e-NABLE Hand.
For more information about e-NABLE, please visit: