Two years ago, Mason Middle School science teacher Bethany Jones launched her dream class - a project-based science elective called Engineering by Design. The project-based curriculum was designed to challenge and engage the natural curiosity and imagination of middle school students.
“When the challenge of developing a seventh grade science elective was presented to us, we were brought back to some of the most memorable times in our own educations,” Jones explained. “We expanded the idea of using the engineering design process and developed activities we felt would challenge the students as well as get their creative juices flowing.”
Over 400 MMS students have now taken the semester-long course where they envision, research, design, build and test their ideas. They are given challenges that test their ability to solve problems, work as a team and collaborate on ideas. This year, Jones' students took their engineering by design to a new level - with 3D printing.
Jones is teaching her students that it’s not all about the end product, but the journey that gets you there. The main takeaway she wants her students to have from the 3D Printing lesson is that in life (as in learning) more often than not failure occurs more than successes at first, but that just means you have to keep trying.
Jones dove headfirst into the world of 3D printing alongside her students and is loving every minute of it! She instructs her class that although the 3D Printer is fun, it is not a toy. It is a base for creation, design and problem solving.
The first project Jones and her class printed was a 3D piggy bank.
“I kid you not, about an hour into the print, a group of students are hovering over the printer watching in awe and one says, 'how are you going to get the money out Mrs. Jones?' Face-palm. I had forgotten to put a hole in the bottom to get the money out!” laughed Jones. “Great teachable moment about learning from your mistakes right?”
Students enjoyed analyzing where problems occur, and deciding how to fix things moving forward. In the piggy bank design in general, it took three attempts before the piggy bank came out just the way they wanted it.
“I am loving the iterative process of designing, printing, redesigning and reprinting until I get something right. It is a wonderful lesson that my students are learning as well. I am finding that in a world where they may have been afraid to fail before, they are energized by the possibility that they can analyze the problem and attempt to fix it!” added Jones.