It was recently suggested to me by my friend and 3D enthusiast, TJ McCue (3dRV.com) that I create a web page to chronicle my adventures with 3D printing with my 7th and 8th graders in my science classroom.
This is a work in progress so please forgive me since I will be starting this process from about a year ago when I first discovered that 3D printing would have a place in my classroom. I welcome you to follow along with me and my students as we embark on our 3D journey.
I was trying to remember when I first got the wild idea that my classroom needed a 3D printer and I think it all started at FETC 2014. Usually this is a time when I am completely overwhelmed with new tech and a million ideas of how I am going to incorporate all these new things into my classroom. My friend, fellow teacher and Discovery Education DEN STAR, Tracie Belt told me about all of the great things her librarians were doing at their school, Shorecrest Prep in St. Pete Florida. Check them out at: http://www.shorecrest.org/Page/Academics/Carleen-Vinal-Haskell-Library
I knew that I needed to find a way to get a 3D printer for my classroom. With all of the budget cuts our district was facing, I knew I would have to find my own funding. I wrote my first grant, 3D printing – Science, not Science Fiction and was awarded $500 through the Manatee Education Foundation Cash for Classroom Grants http://mefinfo.org/educators_schools/
Although $500 is a great start, I knew I would need more money and more information about how 3D printing would have a positive impact on my students’ learning.
Then out of the blue, my college roommate, Amanda Keniston of 3/Thirds http://think3thirds.com/ contacted me on Facebook on September 19, 2014.
Amanda told me about TJ McCue and his 3DRV project and that TJ was going to be touring in Florida in the next few days. I checked out TJ’s blog and posted on the 3DRV Facebook page that they needed to swing by my school. http://3drv.com
Well, by some miracle, TJ McCue, his wife Susan and son Joshua took a detour in their 3DRV and headed to Electa A. Lee Magnet Middle School in Bradenton.
Over 350 students filled the cafetorium and were completely enthralled for over an hour as TJ and his family told us about their 3D journey. From that point on, we were hooked…
Set Up and First Print
Needless to say I was super excited to set up the printer and start playing with it. I read the directions at home and figured out a good place to set up the printer in my classroom. I knew I needed a place where it was visible but not distracting and on a surface that was level and wouldn’t get bumped which could mess with the calibration.
I found a corner near the area in my classroom I dedicated to my “FAB LAB” Maker Studio. The printer fit perfectly, there was an outlet nearby and the printer would be in a place where students could access it if they were going to print, but out of the way so class could run without it being a huge distraction – I still have to teach science content after all.
I started setting up the printer at 9:30 and was done by 11:30 – I wanted to make sure that everything was calibrated and that I had read everything before I started printing.
I did have to call customer support twice before I started printing successfully.
The first time I called was because I wasn’t sure of the voltage setting. I didn’t want to plug the printer in an then have it explode because I didn’t have the settings correct. I called the number listed on the directions and spoke to a REAL LIVE PERSON!! The support person, Brent, was very helpful and didn’t make me feel stupid with all of my questions.
The second time I called (and again spoke with Brent) was because I was having trouble with the settings. I decided to use ABS filament and although the directions told me the temperatures, I was having trouble with getting the filament to stick to the bed. Brent gave me suggestions to help with my problem and I ended up using a gluestick to help get the first layer of filament to stick. Apparently hairspray and Acetone work too – but all I had on hand were gluesticks so I decided to try that.
After taking a break I was ready to print. I downloaded an octopus from the Lulzbot site and started my first print at 2:00 –
This is my finished product – about 2 hours later. Not bad for my first print.
… My octopus (right) compared to the test octopus (left).
Here are some videos of the printer in action.
Look what came in the mail today!!! So excited. Time to read the directions and see how to set this thing up!
Ordered my Lulzbot Taz printer today.
I contacted Lulzbot to get a quote and they were very quick to reply and answer any questions that I had. Now the hard part…waiting for my new printer to come in the mail.