This chapter provides an overview of varied practical applications for 3D printing in the K-16 environment. These applications intertwine with and extend to teacher education in the university setting, impacting pre-service teachers and in-service teachers across disciplines. The concepts, successes, and failures also expand into the surrounding communities and regions to influence perceptions and initiatives. The activities and applications open minds and doors for career and education pathways that are enhanced by the endless creative possibilities and implementation of the process. Throughout the chapter, each concrete example will be followed by a broader impact and specific implementation that surpasses the lower levels of engagement often seen through simplified 3D printing activities. The information and resources are valuable to educators of all levels.
This work puts a spotlight on utilizing 3D printing technologies in mechanical engineering education. Starting from elementary courses such as geometric modeling to the more advanced courses such as Fluid Mechanics and Mechanics of Materials.
The authors of this work have extensive experience in 3D printing technologies which allowed them to implement it in many aspects of their daily education process. The process starts from geometric modeling courses by teaching students the procedures needed to develop the 3D model(s) of the prototypes and successfully transfer them from the computer screen into real part(s). The same course also introduces the students to many types of technologies, applications, and hands-on experience in 3D printing equipment.
Advanced courses such as Fluid Mechanics and Aerodynamics allowed students to 3D print their prototypes and test it in the wind tunnel making use of the similarity approach where it mimics a real-world situation. Such models included basic shapes such as a disk or a sphere and more advanced models such as car models, truck models, aerofoils and wings.
It has been noticed, from experience and continuous practice, that students become more excited and enthusiastic when allowed to use 3D printing technologies freely in their course work. The process itself is novel and innovative, and many students are thrilled for being involved in this area. It is expected that in the near future, a dedicated course will be assigned for 3D printing and scanning technologies, especially in mechanical engineering education.
This chapter offers vignettes and examples of Makerspace activities to illuminate the considerations and decisions inherent in the integration of 3D printing into very early childhood classrooms. The benefits of STEM tasks such as 3D printing for even very young students are evident in the areas of intellectual growth (reasoning, hypothesizing, predicting, generation and reflection upon ideas), social skills (leadership, sharing), and play. However, as is the case with most cutting-edge technologies, teachers are being encouraged to use the tools before research-based lessons are widely available. Research-based lessons should specifically link the activities to positive instruction techniques. This chapter provides practical ideas, as well as an explanation linking the lessons to research supporting a whole-child, integrated approach to early childhood learning and development.