It is lunchtime, and as you cautiously make your way into the bustling Science Office, you notice a large crowd of budding engineers crowding the back table. The students stand hovering over a small metal box, and watch intently as it glows and hums to a scientific rhythm. The secret is out: a new printer is pumping out three-dimensional designs, and students are buzzing with excitement.
The 3D printing fever is timely. St. Luke’s graduated its inaugural STEM Scholars, Sam Posner (New Canaan)and Kyle DeViney (Wilton), just last year, and now math and science wizards are buzzing about the new learning opportunities that the 3D printer has brought to the Hilltop.
The new printer, formally known as the Makerbot Replicator, was donated to the Science Department by generous St. Luke’s parents. At the end of last year, the printer was placed on the “Wishing Tree,” a list of classroom tools that teachers want for their classrooms but are simply too expensive for their budgets.
The new printer is an important addition to the STEM program, and has many students and teachers excited about its futuristic capabilities. Paul Freeman ‘14 of New Canaan, like many other aspiring engineers, is enthusiastic about the new printer. “I can’t wait to see my designs come to life and take physical form,” Freeman says. “It will be a great experience for me and all of my peers.”
Freeman and other Upper School engineering students have already been tasked with their first assignment: design and create a dry erase marker for classroom use. Engineering teacher Mr. Mitchell stressed how the new printer shines light upon the key principles of the engineering curriculum. “We want our students to be creative in their endeavours,” he says. “We are excited to provide them with another tool to help them bring their designs to life.”
However, the 3D printer is not only for the use for the Upper School engineering course. Mr. Mitchell also aims to incorporate the new technology into Middle School science curriculum. He recalls one day, earlier in the year, when a group of fifth graders were building a science project with Lego blocks. They were stumped as to what to do when missing one last Lego to complete the project and were relieved to know that the 3D printer was available to make their needed part.
According to Mr. Mitchell, incidents like these are the quintessential reasons as to why the Makerbot Replicator came to St. Luke’s in the first place. “I don’t want students to come to a point where they can’t do something in the classroom because we don’t have the right resources,” he says. “As technology becomes more advanced, so do our projects and the interests of students.”
With the addition of the printer, the future of the engineering class looks bright. Students like Freeman are taking full advantage of the new opportunities presented. “This is among the most exciting new pieces of technology that St. Luke’s has to offer,” Freeman says. “It provides such great opportunities.”