TRAVERSE CITY — Conceptualize a product. Design it on a computer. Print it on a machine.
It sounds like a day in the life of a mechanical engineer, but 3-D printing is making its way into the educational realm in Traverse City, and it’s not only engineering students who benefit.
Up to three Traverse City Area Public Schools buildings could have MakerBot 3-D printers in classrooms come fall. The printers produce plastic parts using designs created with computer software.
Newton’s Road, a local nonprofit that promotes learning experiences for youth in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM fields, and RJG, inc., an injection molding training and technology company, are partnering with Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District to donate printers to TCAPS classrooms.
Interested schools across all grade levels must complete a written application that explains how the school can incorporate the printer into a meaningful STEM learning experience, as well as submit a 90-second video showing where and how the printer will be used. Applications are due by April 30.
Mike Groleau of RJG said the project’s goal is to generate interest and awareness of STEM education, as well as to learn more about how 3-D printers can be used as learning tools in classrooms.
Printers can be used on more than just STEM projects. The Printer Project gave Traverse City West Middle School a printer this year to test how the technology could be used at a level earlier than high school.
Art teacher Pete Deyo uses the printer in his classroom. Students sculpt their designs on the computer and then print off the finished product in class. He said incorporating math and software knowledge into an art curriculum makes sense for his students.
“The fact of the matter is that everything is designed. The engineer is going to make sure that it works, but what it looks like, that’s a designer and an artist all the way,” he said.