As told by Vanessa Miller
As an English teacher at Grace Christian School (Cypress, CA), I explored the Robo E3 Pro printer during STEM training in May. A bit unconventional, right? Imagine an English teacher entering the 3D printing realm – that’s what I thought too. However, my 3D printing journey took an unexpected turn towards creating a fully functional electric violin, all thanks to a chat with Jonathan Lockwood*, our STEM expert.
I had long been interested in having an electric violin. Jonathan, the brain behind our STEM activities, encouraged printing one as a budget-friendly solution. A few texts to our tech-savvy music pastor and I had a link to an electric soundboard and realized that this latent desire could be a reality. Further, I was very certain that the process would make me very familiar with the machines, helping me be comfortable guiding my students through the many-stage process. This marked the integration of 3D printing into my teaching routine.
Navigating through Thingiverse for 3D printing files and using Tinkercad for modifications, I found myself immersed in the fascinating process of crafting a violin layer by layer. It wasn’t always smooth; challenges emerged, and I refined and adjusted as I progressed.
The moment the violin components materialized, the excitement was tangible. Assembling it with drilled holes, adding screws, and stringing it together felt like solving a musical puzzle. Even my initially skeptical dad joined in, contributing his expertise to assemble the parts.
Now, the most satisfying part – playing the completed 3D-printed violin. The sound volunteers and music staff were extremely excited to help me connect my violin to the church sound system—connecting my acoustic violin had been problematic for years. The first sounds at home, on my amplifier were interesting, but the second try using the church sound system was nothing short of magical. Beautiful sounds filled the space, leaving both me and the worship crew in awe.
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What’s even more thrilling is the impact it had on my students. Sharing this 3D printing experience with my students sparked their interest in STEM projects, demonstrating that the world of 3D printing isn’t exclusive to tech enthusiasts but is accessible to anyone willing to explore its possibilities. My middle school students are given the opportunity several times per year to design and print projects that work with our novels and their settings. The process of printing their items, from idea to reality, is a great learning experience for them.
So, to my fellow educators, think about integrating 3D printing into your teaching toolkit. It has the potential to enrich student experiences, fostering curiosity and creativity in unexpected ways.
*Jonathan Lockwood is a STEM Training and Development Specialist for Boxlight
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