Rich Lehrer helped his students work with seniors to learn 3D printing

As a teacher at Brookwood School in Massachusetts, Rich Lehrer didn’t used to have any knowledge of 3D printing. It was only when he took a summer fellowship in Rwanda that he became inspired to start looking for STEM projects to share with his students.

He was able to do just that by planning a 3D design pilot with fellow teacher Annie Johnson. The duo decided to take their sixth grade students to a local senior-living facility called Harborlight House. The group, who dubbed themselves the D-Zign-Girlz, was able to talk with and collaborate with seniors at the facility to create new prints.

After explaining to the seniors how 3D printing work, the students then asked them to brainstorm problems in their lives so that they could come up with a fix for them.

rich lehrer has used 3d printing for a number of projects in his classroom

With the seniors ideas and the students knowledge of 3D printing, they were able to create easy-to-move bingo markers, playing-card holders, and even a bagel holder for safe slicing. The collaboration was successful because the seniors had the life experience to identify problems, while the students had the technical experience to come up with solutions to the problems.

While the project was originally for just a few weeks, Lehrer and Johnson expanded the project into the D-Zign Kidz so that they could collaborate over the course of the school year.

Lehrer's first project was using 3D printing to create a hand for his son

The D-Zign Kidz wasn’t Lehrer’s first project with his students. Previously, he recruited 12 eighth graders to help him build a prosthetic for his son Max, who suffers from symbrachydactyly and doesn’t have fingers on his right hand.

The students were divided into three teams: one to research printers, one to research thermoplastic, and one to research other necessary hardware. It took the group three prototypes before creating the perfect hand for Max.

To continue his efforts of spreading STEM education to his students, Lehrer also created the Problem Bank, which is a website where members from the school can post their problems. Students in his design class can then brainstorm ways to solve these problems with 3D printing.

Read the full article on EdSurge.

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