School’s 3D project puts perspective on learning

A Suffolk school has completed the latest stage of a pioneering international project to establish state-of-the-art 3D printing into the curriculum. Alde Valley School in Leiston is the only school in the countery to be part of the two-years European-funded 3D Print Schools project. Students and staff have been working alongside schools in the Netherlands, Sweden and Germany to explore the potential of 3D printing in education.

Now at the halfway point, Alde Valley was visited by pupils from each of the partner schools for a series of workshops at Leiston Abbey and a ” geoaching” trip to Dunwich. Using Google Earth and a programme called SketchUp, the students made 3D mapped simulations of famous local buildings, including Leiston Abbey.

For their visit Dunwich, the pupils created 3D bugs carrying trackers which can be followd on a website, and placed them in geocaching boxes for other treasure hunters to find. Samantha Jay, a design and teacher who has been leading the project at Alde Valley, said: ”This is part of the Lifelong Learning Programme, with the focus on developing 3D technology and hopefully getting it onto the school curriculum. ” We had 46 students and staff over to trial the workshops, which included coding and programing printers. ”The technology is moving forward quickly.

It’s being used in medicine, reconstructive surgery and dentistry. In Japan, they are now trialling ptrnting actual organs with DNA of transplant patients. ” They can 3D print cars and houses, and NASA is planning to make replacement parts by printing them is space. ”We would like to get into as many areas of the curriculum as possible. We aim to create a teachers manual to help other schools integrate it into their own curriculum.”

The project is part of a Lifelong Learning Programme and sub project of the Comenius Programme, aimed at schools, colleges and local authorities across Europe.