"I feel that 3D printing enforces several skills that my students need to learn. By learning to create 3D models, students get exposure to CAD software which is becoming a common tool used in many careers they may be interested in."
-Carrie Beach, Washington Junior High School
The following is from our vendor PrintLab about one of our customers, the amazing teacher Carrie Beach!
PrintLab Pioneers are a select group of educators with a passion for 3D printing in education, who share our core values of community and sharing. Over the coming months we'll be introducing you to our pioneers and their journey with the PrintLab Classroom 3D printing curriculum.
Today we are delighted to introduce you to Carrie Beach, STEAM teacher and FabLab Coordinator at Washington Junior High School in Bentonville, Arkansas. We were introduced to Carrie by our friends and partners NWA3D and we had the pleasure of catching up with Carrie, to learn more about her background and 3D printing journey. Check out the interview below!
Hi Carrie! Please could you tell us about yourself and how you got involved with STEAM education?
I have been a teacher for 20 years. I started teaching STEAM 3 years ago when I received a grant from my school district for a class set of laptops and training on 21st-century teaching techniques such as PBL and genius hour. Around the same time, I became involved with a children's museum that was opening in our area, the Amazeum. That is where I learned about maker education. A year later I got a grant to buy supplies to create a makerspace in my classroom. That's when I bought my first 3D printer, a printrbot simple metal.
Two years ago, I obtained my certification to teach Project Lead the Way. I now teach pre-engineering and one class which is a combined 8th grade science and technology class. In addition to my classes, I run a makerspace out of my classroom that is available to all students during student free time. Next year I will be moving to a bigger classroom that will expand the opportunity for more teachers to start making in their classrooms as well.
In my free time, I like to hang out with my family. My husband and I have two children. We enjoy traveling and watching sports. I also enjoy knitting, making jewelry and making things on my vinyl cutter.
We understand that you have been incorporating 3D printing in your class projects, can you tell us about a specific project that inspired you?
My students have used the 3D printer to make assistive technology devices in my class. We use assistive devices to learn the design process in the pre-engineering class I teach. My students get a customer who they create something for. Examples of 3D printed devices they have made include adaptive utensil handles, pencil holders, and pieces to repair broken ipad cases that belong to our special education department. In addition, students from other classes have used our printers to print models for science classes and history classes.
Why do you think it is important for young people in education to learn about 3D printing?
I feel that 3D printing enforces several skills that my students need to learn. By learning to create 3D models, students get exposure to CAD software which is becoming a common tool used in many careers they may be interested in. In addition, the modeling process helps them to practice measuring and other math skills. We hope to develop CAD training for our special education students to help them apply what they are learning in math class. 3D modeling also allows students to express their creativity in a new way. I have several students who have become quite gifted at CAD because they want to create models of things from Minecraft or other video games.
When it comes to actually using a printer, I think the biggest lessons kids can learn is troubleshooting. I personally have learned so much about technology since I got my first printer. I would never have thought that I could fix things and understand code but because of the printers, I have been able to learn. I encourage my students to learn to use the printers that we have. They help me to research troubleshooting when we have problems and have started to use the printers as genius hour projects.
We are honoured to have you as our first PrintLab Pioneer in the US. What are your thoughts on the PrintLab Classroom lesson portal and how do you intend to use it this year?
I really like the portal. I was excited to see lessons for subjects other than just science and technology. I am hoping to have some teachers from different content areas try the lessons out for me to see what they think. We have already done the Braille lesson in class and it went really well. The lesson was very well written. Students who are already accomplished at Tinkercad said that they even learned new things they didn't know before the lesson. The kids can't wait to do the pen lesson that is coming out soon too. They are very excited to be able to make things we can print and several of them have started trying to do more with Tinkercad by themselves.
I can't wait to use the whistle and balloon drag racer lessons with my science and technology class. I love how they integrate printing into the science content.
What advice would you give to other teachers looking to introduce 3D printing in their school?
I would advise people to just do it. When I started using 3D printers I wasn't exactly sure what we would do with them and I had no idea how to use the machine. Now I am always finding ways for us to use our printers and love the creativity that the kids use while designing things to be printed. Students get really excited when they realize that they can make things themselves that they never thought possible. Plus as a teacher, you feel very accomplished when you learn to use and troubleshoot the printers.
A big thank you to Carrie for taking the time to share her insight into 3D printing at Washington Junior High School. We hope you get chance to check out Carrie's Twitter, Instagram and Donors Choose page!