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Designs Come to Life in Fourth Grade STEAM Studio

STEAM Studio, taught by Lower School Art Chair and PreK-12 STEAM Coordinator Jess Grisafi and Lower School 3rd-5th Grade Science Teacher Troy Holiday '01, along with 4th Grade homeroom teachers, is one of the most interactive parts of the 4th Grade curriculum. Held in the Lower School Tinker Lab, students practice CAD (computer aided design) using the TinkerCad app and learn about MakerBot 3D printers and the operations by which the .STL design from TinkerCad is received and processed by the printers, producing a 3-dimensional object.

"While this is not a yearlong activity, the goal is for students to absorb these skills and apply them to future projects," said Grisafi. "Utilizing the 3D printer as just another tool or material choice to bring a concept to life allows for students to see themselves as inventors, bringing their ideas to form and often function."

Students will tell you that they enjoy the process of creating, but what most kids love most is watching the 3D printer in action as it moves across and up the platform, building their design, layer by layer, just as they imagined. They are surprised to hear how 3D printers are being used in the world today - 3D printed clothing, 3D printed food, 3D printed houses, and even 3D printed living tissue and organs.

"I hope that students walk away with the understanding that there are many ways to to bring an idea to fruition," Grisafi continued. "3D printing is only one of the constantly evolving forms of technology available today. I also want them to think beyond the small project they may be designing for class, and have them dream big about concepts that may one day change our world in more significant ways."

Fortunately, 4th Grade is not the only group doing this kind of work. Past examples of 3D printed projects are 1st Graders rendered drawings that were printed into 3Dimensional animals during their animals' study unit. 4th graders designed unique lanterns, printing with a translucent plastic filament and applying circuitry skills and LED's to light up the sculptures, while 5th graders use the 3D printers to design tools and products tailored specifically for their Kindergarten STEAM buddies.

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