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To 3D or not to 3D: after borrowing a 3D printer and realizing its potential, this fifth-grade teacher won one for his class.

After borrowing a 3D printer for three weeks for his fifth-grade classroom last year, Vincenzo La Ruina knew he needed to have one available all the time. While something as sophisticated as a 3D printer might seem like overkill for kids as young as fifth-graders, La Ruina had them doing some impressively creative projects.

At first, the kids at Gardiner Manor School in Bay Shore, Brooklyn. NY spent some time getting used to the technology. They experimented with the technology to print relatively simple things like a 3D rocket, ring or dog tags. La Ruina held contests in his classes to help them select what they would print. After they quickly became comfortable with their 3D printer, the list of possible projects expanded both in number and in scope.

Their design priority list included designing a logo for their school, a car, a spaceship, something you can wear, a house, a bridge, a plane, a unique shape, an animal, a pencil holder, a small monster, a plant, a robot, a boat that will float, a tree, a chair, a bowl, a sculpture, a new tool that can be used for something, and a LEGO person.

They had fully embraced 3D printing technology, and La Ruina was putting it to work and doing innovative projects with his math and art classes. I was inspired by a workshop I went to," says La Ruina. "I like the idea of kids being able to make what they want. They can articulate an idea onto a 3D printer. They can take an idea and make it 3D. I am excited to help these kids solve these problems."

Gardiner Manor School has third through fifth graders. The older kids use Tinkerbot to create their designs prior to printing. The younger kids use Cubify, which is easier for them to operate. One of La Ruina's students wanted to make soccer ball, so he helped him decide whether they should start with a square and trim the excess material off, or start with a polygon and build it up. It's that kind of abstract conceptual thinking in which La Ruina enjoys engaging his students. "They're learning to make and design things," La Ruina says.

"I want everyone to have a chance to use this," says La Ruina. "They can do it on their own. They can come to me for help. It's not too much effort. If you give them an hour, they can get started."

La Ruina is looking forward to putting this more sophisticated Stratasys Mojo 3D printer to work with his classroom projects. The first 3D printer the school borrowed was indeed brand new, but required frequent maintenance. With his experience, he is also much more familiar with the 3D design and printing process. "My knowledge has grown since writing the essay," he says. "We will be able to be more precise."

La Ruina won the Stratasys Mojo 3D printer after winning an essay contest sponsored hy Stratasys and THE Journal.

"I want everyone to have a chance to use this. They can do it on their own. They can come to me for help."--Vincenzo La Ruina, fifth grade teacher



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Publication:T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2016
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