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The City Journals

Willow Springs Teacher Receives 3D Printer Grant

Jul 01, 2016 08:15AM ● By Julie Slama

Willow Springs fourth-grade teacher Melody Watson wrote and received a grant that awarded her three 3-D printers this spring. Willow Springs is the only school in the state that received the printers. — Melody Watson

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Willow Springs fourth-grader North Rust was excited to learn his class would have a 3-D printer this past spring.

 “I like the 3-D printers because it is a new and fun way to learn,” North said. “It’s very interactive and fun to watch.”

 The students were fortunate that their teacher, Melody Watson, received one of 100 grants nationwide to have three MOD-t 3-D printers from New Matter Printer Company deliver them to the school. Watson is only winner in the Mountain West region and along with the printers, she received 15 replacement print surface plates and 15 spools of filament.

 “I was reading a blog and it said there were 3-D printers available for education so I thought I could easily tie it into our curriculum,” Watson said. “I’m excited. We’re the only school in Utah to receive one and most of the 300 printers awarded were to high schools and universities.” 

As the class received the printer with about one month left of school, Watson encouraged students to figure out the mathematics of using the 3-D printer for things like printing replicas of footprints or trilobite imprints before she would print them for the students.

 In the fall, she plans to have the students gain more hands-on opportunities as they will have more time to learn the program and figure out measurements before they print them on the odor-free printers.

 Fourth-grader Sydney England said she liked learning about 3-D printers.

 “I like how you can draw a design on the computer and it will print it,” Sydney said. “It will help you learn by seeing and feeling it.”

 Anna Ricks said it was the first time she’s seen a 3-D printer.

 “I think it’s going to be good to have because if you are doing a project to help the kids you could do a 3-D one so they can actually hold it,” she said.

 Watson said that much of the application these students are learning is by trial and error.

 “They’re learning more than just doing and redoing. They’re learning not to give up and to shift their expectations. If something doesn’t work the way they designed it, then they ask themselves, ‘What is another way I can make it work?’ It’s a lot of problem solving. I’m excited to tie it into all my curriculum and for the kids to gain more STEM experience,” she said.

 Fourth-grader Cael Delahunty is excited about the printers.

 “I’m glad we have the 3-D printer because it can make an example of what we’re learning about. It can also make things that you need for school,” Cael said.

 Since 2014, Watson’s room is a one-device-to-one-student classroom, meaning each student has an iPad, which they can use to review math practice, type essays, review quizlets, scan QR codes as a learning scavenger hunt, research online and practice the Reflex math program.

 “I really love technology. I’m proud when I’m called a tech geek. I was just curious about it and so I taught myself so I’d understand how things work. This is the direction the world is going, but I still maintain a balance in the classroom. If we all use technology all the time, we’ll lose face-to-face social interaction, so we practice our listening and speaking skills and have students partner up to practice looking into their eyes while they talk to each other,” Watson said, who recently completed her technology endorsement.

 However, she did say this will give students a boost when it comes to preparing for their education.

 “In high school, college, they’ll be able to do what others may be learning. These kids will have that experience to build upon,” she said.

 Samantha Pugh realizes that.

 “I think that the 3-D printers are cool because I learned how they work and it makes it so we can do more things during class,” she said. “It makes me want to do more stuff like it in high school and college and I think other kids will feel the same way.”    λ