The world of 3D printing within education is growing faster each year! More and more schools are adopting new and emerging technologies in their classrooms to help enrich the learning process, thus providing students and educators with more innovative and exciting ways to achieve curriculum goals. Incorporating 3D printing in the classroom gives students a wonderful way to explore new concepts and solve problems in a collaborative environment. By providing pre-made 3D printed manipulatives and standards-driven lesson plans, MyStemKits raises the bar for 3D printers in the classroom and casts them as an essential tool for hands-on learning.
High school biology teacher, Bob Wallace, is determined to see his students graduate not just with a diploma, but with a full range of academic skill sets and technical knowledge that will prepare them for future success. A passionate science educator, Mr. Wallace has been teaching for over 30 years. He currently teaches at Wakulla High School in Crawfordville, Florida, recognized as one of Florida’s “A” high schools.
"Our mission is to provide educational programs that contribute to the development of each student emotionally, academically, and physically, so that they can go on to be successful in a continually changing and diverse society."
In his years as a teacher, Mr. Wallace has employed various tactics to explain difficult science concepts to his students. He found that textbooks alone could rarely convey concepts in a way that kept his students engaged with the material or left them with a true understanding of the information being presented. An example of a problem he faced was that his students had a hard time figuring out how “crossing over” (genetic recombination) happens during mitosis and meiosis.
"Over the years, I've used a lot of different things - drawings on boards, still magnets, and I've used beads - the beads go bouncing all over the place and you end up losing all of them. The MyStemKits teaching tools are all 3D printed and the students love it - that hooks them!"
Determined to set his students up for future success, Mr. Wallace looked into different options for keeping his students engaged with the material in an effective manner. Through a professional-development workshop offered by MyStemKits’ curriculum team, the Florida Center for Research in STEM, Mr. Wallace discovered and was instantly intrigued by the pairing of 3D printed materials with curriculum that aligned to NGSS and Common Core standards. MyStemKits offers the world’s largest library of 3D-printable K-12 STEM curriculum with over 180 kits and 240 lesson plans. Mr. Wallace loved how MyStemKits used real-world manipulatives students could hold, analyze, and interact with.
Mr. Wallace also found that the learning curve for MyStemKits was extremely simple. Most MyStemKits’ lesson include 3D printable files, an extensive lesson plan, student assessments, teacher guides, and handouts to compliment the lesson – everything premade to set both students and teachers up for success.
"The lesson plans are very good. A teacher can print the lesson and assessments for students, put it in front of them, and the students can follow along on their own and learn."
After Mr. Wallace implemented the MyStemKits curriculum in his classroom, he immediately noticed a dramatic increase in student engagement. His first kits were the Darwin’s Finches Kit, Chromosomes Kit, and Hominid Species and Tools Kit. Mr. Wallace always starts the lessons with a conversation about the 3D print, and his students instantly get excited. Previously, Mr. Wallace was faced with an issue in his classroom where his students were not motivated to do graphing. A majority of the standard course testing requires graphing, yet his biology students would complain about graphing or would not complete the assignment. With 3D prints as an opening gambit, he found that motivating students to graph was no longer an issue.
"I tell them these [models] are 3D printed. Since they don't get experience with that, it hooks them! They get excited about having cutting edge technology like 3D printing, so they are willing to do the sometimes mundane task of graphing."
Using the Darwin’s Finches Kit, he puts the beak models on the table in front of his students and lets them figure out what the differences are between them. After the students complete the MyStemKits lesson, Mr. Wallace gets creative and leads his students into an even deeper discussion of the material, eventually presiding over an activity where they are designing their own experiments!
Not only did his students work with the 3D printed models, they also got their hands on other materials that they typically would not use in classrooms, such as a caliper, in order to measure the hominid specimens. Use of these tools would in turn spark conversations on the differences between each specimen from the size of the jaws to the style of the teeth. This collaborative nature is extremely effective in a student's retention of a subject.
"The students come to class, learn while having fun, and all of a sudden you hear them talking about..."Oh wow, look at the teeth on this [hominid]!' They're not going to get that from looking at a book. I never hear any kind of comments like that from them when learning through a book. Even watching a movie - half the time they fall asleep. With MyStemKits, they start developing ideas on their own."
Mr. Wallace also found success using MyStemKits’ Chromosomes Kit to solve his problem finding a way to effectively teach genetic recombination. Using the 3D-printed chromosomes, his students were able to easily swap colors on the chromosomes to see exactly what happens during mitosis and meiosis. By using these unique study aids, students quickly grasped the concept of crossing over by having that hands-on experience with the chromosomes.
The MyStemKits curriculum has tremendously impacted Mr. Wallace’s classroom by providing a unique, fun way to grasp difficult concepts. As he says, ‟Science is really coming to life for them!”
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About Robo + MyStemKits
Robo is a company based in San Diego, California, USA, focused on the design and distribution of 3D printers and associated products for the desktop segment of the 3D printing industry. Robo’s smart and easy-to-use 3D printers, which are perfectly suited for education with Wi-Fi connectivity, Chromebook compatibility, and enhanced safety features, deliver a true end-to-end 3D printing solution for education alongside MyStemKits curriculum.
MyStemKits is the owner of the world’s largest online library of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) curriculums with 3D printable kits for K-12 schools, all developed to meet Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Together, Robo is poised to create more opportunities for 3D printing within education to allow students to innovate, collaborate, and advance their project-based learning skills.
Wakulla High School
Increase in student engagement
Understanding of difficult concepts
Standards-driven biology curriculum
Cost savings using 3D printing
Darwin's Finches Kit
Hominid Species and Tools Kit
Meter Stick Quadrat Kit