Over the last few weeks, we’ve heard a fair bit of chatter about 3D printing’s place in the British classroom. At the end of last month, Education Secretary Michael Gove announced a £50,000 fund to put 3D printers in 60 selected schools. Gove believes this will help the teaching of maths, science, design and manufacturing amongst numerous other subjects.
It seems the pupils over at East Hampstead Park Community School in Ringmead, Great Hollands, however, are a few steps ahead of him. Today the school revealed that a team of nine Year 11 pupils have been building their own workable 3D printer from scratch since the beginning of term.
The teenagers, including Shaun Gilday (15), Harry Joyce (16), Abbie Maynard (15), John Legg (15) and James Dower (16), began the project after the school was approached by Emma Donald of the South Hill Park art centre’s Digital Media Centre. Donald had previously been rejected for a Nesta grant to back the teaching of 3D printing in schools but still wanted to help teenagers learn the value of additive manufacturing.
“It is important they learn how to create digital stuff rather than just use digital stuff because everyone can use it,” Donald says. “I wanted to introduce 3D printing into schools so they could then build their own 3D printer and use it for fun, education or creating products.”
The school immediately took up the offer, seeing the clear, long term benefits such a project would have on the pupils. It backed the after-school programme with £2,200, enthused by how it would encourage different pupils with different skills to work together on a truly exciting venture.
The teenaged team are being aided in their mission by staff from the Digital Media Centre, as well as David Price of the Thames Valley Rep Rap Group. Price has admitted his admiration for the children, saying:
The pupils have been building kit from start to finish and understand how it works, so they are not only consumers but people who create things.
The whole process is being recorded by the school’s Head of Creative Learning Mark Hooper, who is hoping to make a documentary about the 13-week manufacturing period. The final videos will make fascinating viewing for anybody interested in the potential of 3D printing, both inside and outside the classroom, and the importance of technology to the future of education.