student with 3D printer

Fourth and fifth grade students are learning about cutting-edge technology and possible future careers as new 3D printers are introduced into every HVS elementary school.

HVS recently purchased 16 Makerbot 3D printers – two for each elementary school – with funds from a Career Readiness Grant provided by Oakland Schools.

“As we get rolling, students will be getting these pre-engineering skills at a young age,” said Derek Baad, HVS instructional technology coordinator. “Especially in the older grades, fourth and fifth, we’ll begin lessons where students design a prototype with basic software, get comfortable with 3D modeling and some pre-engineering concepts, and then print off a finished product.

“This will give them a head start as they move onto middle schools, where we offer pre-engineering classes beginning in sixth grade,” Baad added. 

In Jason Rehnlund’s technology classroom at Oxbow Elementary, fifth graders recently completed a unit using a basic 3D CAD design program to create their own 3D designs on Chromebooks, then sent those designs to the new 3D printers. Students started with a simple keychain nameplate, but many enthusiastically asked to do another project and moved on to making simple action figures and more.

“The kids were really, really engaged in the process,” Rehnlund said. “I thought we would need to spend several weeks exploring and honing in on those skills, but they picked it up quickly.” 

The unit, he said, also included discussion about the worldwide shift to 3D printing.

“Industries everywhere are using it,” he said. “Medical, manufacturing. They’re using 3D printing to make pieces of rocket engines.” 

HVS has implemented many additional STEAM – science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics – opportunities over the past few years, now adding the new 3D printers into a robust curriculum that offers career readiness options at all levels.