You may remember I’m involved in a primary school 3D printing project. We have come some way with this recently. We held a competition for schools to submit ‘Dragons’ Den’ pitches to have a printer located at their school. We have decided upon a printer, the Bits from Bytes ‘3D Touch’ and had it delivered to the winning school – Birkenshaw Primary School.
On 9th July, we had an afternoon at the school working with some Year 4 children. We were lucky to be joined by a key member of our project team, Dejan Mitrovic from the Royal College of Art. Dejan is a design specialist who also has considerable experience and expertise in the use of 3D Printing. He is responsible for Kide™ and Kideville ™, concepts that have led to young people engaging with 3D printing in exciting and innovative ways through hands-on approaches in a variety of contexts, from exhibitions at galleries (such as the V&A) and trade-fairs to primary school classrooms. roulette uk
Dejan came to Birkenshaw with a well-structured, punchy afternoon of activity for the children to get stuck into. Recognising the need for learning to be relevant, he themed the afternoon around the design of a (Olympic) stadium. Initially Dejan talked about form and function and shared numerous examples of stadia from around the world. He then introduced a paper-based activity in which the children were asked to design their own stadium (in pairs). They were asked to do ‘front’, ‘side’ and ‘top’ views of their stadium as well as having a go at a 3D view. It was fascinating to see the children’s differing approaches and the diversity in creativity and technical ability.
We then moved to computer-based design and the children were introduced to 3Dtin – browser-based 3D design software. I love 3Dtin. It is intuitive and straightforward and children could get going straight away (it also has an interesting ‘social’ element). Having said that, they did experience varying degrees of success with regards to producing a finished design for a stadium. I think this was essentially down to time – there simply wasn’t long enough for them to tackle some new software and apply that to the project.
As with any unfamiliar medium – whether it is clay, paint, a musical instrument or software, I am a real advocate of allowing space to ‘play and learn’ before applying that knowledge in context. Despite this, a number of children did produce designs suitable for printing. A quick vote decided a winning design to be ‘printed’ there and then.
The 3Dtin software allows for files to be exported in a format (STL) that can be understood by the printer and so it is a relatively simple process (via a USB memory stick) to get a file printing (an object emerges incrementally through the extrusion of a line of 0.25mm molten plastic). The printing process itself is mesmerising and children and adults alike find the emergence of an object a hypnotic experience.
The end result was a great little ‘stadium’.