3D printing is one of the most vanguard technologies in the world today, with everything from handguns to female breasts now able to be printed with incredible accuracy, speed, and functionality. In terms of its practical applications in biotech and the life sciences, Texas has led the way, as BioNews Texas has frequently covered 3D printing as it pertains to crafting new organs and body parts for those desperately needing transplants. Now Texas is expanding its profile as a leader in 3D printing technology by introducing the first 3D printer into an East Texas high school in order to enhance the school’s STEM program.
According to reporter Alexandra Carter at KETK, the new 3D printer will debut at Pine Tree High School in Longview, Texas, and will be integrated into the curriculum pertaining to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics — otherwise referred to as “STEM.” According to comments from teacher Allen Morris that Ms. Carter obtained, the idea is to give students focused on STEM a practical, hands-on experience with cutting-edge technology that will keep them engaged. “A student can enter class, have an idea and perhaps by the end of the class period . . . leave the class with a tangible item in his or her hand [thinking], ‘this is what I thought of this morning, and now it’s in reality.'”
Moreover, the 3D printer intersects curriculum for all four STEM focus areas, allowing teachers and students to work within interdisciplinary contexts — valuable experience for real-life research and development in the sciences. ” It’s the application of math, it’s the application of chemistry . . . the application of physics . . . it’s the application of language arts because they have to communicate their thoughts and ideas . . . they have to write proposals,” said Morris.
Read more about 3D technology in Texas.
In the early stages of the program, it appears that the 3D printer is going to be a major success with students, who are eager to be able to take the theory and methodologies learns in math, science, and computer class, and apply them to a practical, tangible process. High school senior Drue Dehoff was quoted in the KETK article as saying, “It’s very fun to do because when you get done . . . You get to make what you want . . . then you get to take it home.”
One of the oft-repeated criticisms of the U.S. educational system is that the curriculum relies too much on the teaching of theoretical ideas without putting the theories into practical context for students, thus depriving them of the opportunity to internalize information and methodologies. The introduction of the 3D printer, however, is a shining example of how a piece of new technology can further facilitate practical education in STEM and beyond.