RoseZetta B. Cummings, a teacher for Sycamore Junior High School, takes a multifaceted approach to teaching Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) skills by incorporating modern robotics and 3D printing in school. This revised take on education seems to signal a reversal in academic doctrine that once seemed hell-bent on making education little more than a process of painfully tedious memorization. For students in schools like Sycamore Junior High; however, learning comes as a byproduct of doing something fun with robotics and 3D printing in school. In the video below, students Vanessa Fernandez and Yesenia Medina created a Nail Polish Caddy as part of the 2015 OC Maker’s Challenge.
What is interesting about this video and the one that follows is that students not only designed their own products but that they were also responsible for creating multimedia “pitches” to present to judges. Even though the project centered on STEM skills it also incorporated many elements of business, teamwork, and project management that they will someday draw upon in their professional lives.
The Nail Polish Caddy video is also significant in that is showcases females who are engaged in engineering, a field that is traditionally male dominated. Today, only about 18-20% of engineering students are female, but that number has grown significantly from the 1980’s when only 5.8% of engineers were women. The inclusion of 3D printing and robotics in STEM curriculum now encourages females to apply STEM skills in ways that are meaningful and relevant to their lives. These educational and cultural changes promise to unleash the 50% of our nation’s previously untapped brainpower and creativity which bodes well for the future of our planet and our economy.
The following video features an all-male group of students who designed and manufactured a BBQ caddy intended to keep dirty BBQ utensils off of the table when cooking. This is another good example of how STEM skills and 3D printing in school can empower individuals to create innovative product solutions that are both, simple and inexpensive. Examples like these hint at a future in which the role of citizens as mere “consumers” will become blurred by their capacity to produce their own goods on demand.
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