3D Printing & the Classroom: Three Misconceptions You Should Forget

Not long ago, 3D printers were a tool of the future. Now, MakerBot Desktop 3D printers are installed in over 5,000 schools across the U.S.

You may think 3D printing isn’t a fit for your classroom. Before you make that decision, we’d like to clear up a few misconceptions. 3D printing can help students to think creatively, work collaboratively, and learn a variety of skills in a hands-on way.

CEO of MakerBot Jonathan Jaglom notes, “3D printing is a powerful tool in the classroom and provides engaging experiences that motivate students to excel. 3D printing can help teach many of the 21st century skills that employers are looking for, such as STEAM literacy, collaboration, problem-solving and applying knowledge to the real world.” Maybe it’s time to add one to your wish list!

Misconception #1: 3D printers are inaccessible.

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Photo via Thingiverse

As 3D printers become more common, the prices become a bit more affordable for the classroom. Further, we’re excited to announce our new vendor, Best Buy. Now it’s easy to use your AdoptAClassroom.org funds to purchase MakerBot printers through our system. To help reach your goal, you could start a project on your classroom page.

Once you have a printer, you can find designs on Thingiverse, an online community for sharing designs and learning more about 3D printing. Users are encouraged to upload their designs under a Creative Commons license, meaning that you can use or alter the design without cost to use in your classroom.

Misconception #2: 3D printers only teach math and science.

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Photo Via MakerBot Educator Guide

 3D printers can be used to get students excited about all different subjects. In their handbook for educators, MakerBot gives an example of how to use Tinkercad in a project that combines Geography, Environmental Science, and Social Studies.

Students can study biomes, then build water, forest, and mountain tiles. Next, they can learn about early civilizations by exploring the world they created and “settling” in the environment.

Misconception #3: 3D printers are too complicated to be fun and engaging

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Photo via MakerBot Education Guide

Since 3D printing involves technology new to us as adults, it can feel intimidating. Our first assumption was that using one would be complex and involve a lot of rigid rules. However, the more reading we did, the more we realized that MakerBot printers are the perfect tool for students to create and experiment.

According to a MakerBot survey, 83% of teachers empower students to create their own designs, instead of printing existing designs. Most likely, your students will surprise you with their ability to innovate and experiment. High School Teacher Rob Puckett offers this advice:

“Let them play with it. Don’t be afraid to break it.”

Don’t forget, you can buy a MakerBot 3D Printer with your AdoptAClassroom.org funds through our new vendor, Best Buy! Just login to your teacher dashboard to get started!

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