Do you know what a 3D (three-dimensional) printer is? Chances are, if you're reading this, you at least have an idea. And if you don't already own one, there's a good chance you're at least considering buying one. Why? Because 3D printing is the future! Not only does it allow for some amazing creative opportunities, but it also helps develop essential STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) skills. Here are three reasons why every mom, dad, caregiver, and teacher should consider buying a 3D printer to use at home or in the classroom.
In this blog post, we will discuss the benefits of learning alongside your child and exploring the fun, creative ways you can use a 3D printer at home.
1. A 3D printer can help your child learn problem-solving skills.
2. A 3D printer can help your child learn how to think creatively.
3. A 3D printer will encourage your child to become a maker and not just a consumer.
If you're like most parents, you want your children to have the best opportunities in life. One way to help them is to develop their STEM skills at home. I decided to purchase a 3D printer for my three children for Christmas because I wanted to expose them to technology at home that will help them become interested in computer science. My children are ages 8, 5, and 4. As an educator, I see the need to create different types of learning experiences for our kids at home in a more casual setting where they can truly tinker.
Let’s dive into the benefits of buying a 3D printer for your kids to use at home and some resources to help you if you know absolutely nothing about 3D printing like I did when I first started!
Encourage Making vs. Consuming
Having a 3D printer to tinker with at home will open an entirely new world of possibilities for
your children as they learn how to become makers and designers of almost anything their imagination can dream up. There are so many cool prints your child can make with their very own 3D printer at home. They can print out their own toys and accessories, make gifts for friends and family members as well as print items to solve household dilemmas, like creating hooks to hang LED lights perfectly around sharp corners.
Understanding how to use technology and having a strong foundation in computer science concepts will be foundational for many of the careers our children will explore when it's time for them to enter the workforce. Did you know “65 percent of the children entering primary school now will ultimately work in a job that doesn't exist today, according to one popular estimate reported by the World Economic Forum?” Yup, you read that right, 65%! So understanding the urgency of developing core STEM skills like creativity and critical thinking, while also creating space for play and exploration make 3D printing the perfect type of technology to play around with and learn at home.
A 3D printer can help your child learn problem-solving skills
One inevitable challenge that you and your child will face when learning to use your 3D printer is that prints will fail. There are lots of reasons prints fail, and it is destined to happen. Teaching kids that it is ok to fail and that mistakes are a part of the learning process is invaluable. Trusting in yourself and being willing to try again (and again and again) teaches children how to be resilient and more importantly how to problem solve. When a print fails children have to ask themselves questions like:
What went wrong?
What do I need to change to make the design print correctly?
What input might I change to get a different result?
Now, I am a researcher so these questions might sound a bit heavy for an 8-year-old (and his younger siblings, but their natural curiosity will lead them to develop these critical questioning skills. Kids are naturally curious and when learning through play and curiosity where the stakes of failure are relatively low or non-existent, the pressure to be perfect is replaced by limitless creativity.
A 3D printer can help your child learn how to think creatively...
Speaking of creativity, that is the third and in my opinion, one of the most important skills having a 3D printer at home can help your children develop. You can really go in lots of directions in what you can print on your 3D printer at home. We started by finding STL files that we could simply download and send to the printer. Once we got a feel for how the process of printing worked, I signed my oldest son up for come classes on Out School where he started learning how to design his own objects to print. Along our journey so far we have learned a lot. Mainly from the prints that failed! We learned how important the initial design is in the finished product. More importantly, we learned tips and tricks to fixing errors and setting up our prints for success.
I am excited to invite you all on this journey with us, as we continue to share our experience tinkering with 3D printing at home! We hope you found this post helpful as you consider buying a 3D printer for your home or classroom. Follow us on Instagram as we share our experiences and mishaps using our 3D printing and all the fun learning that happens in between.
Until next time, be well!