Inspiring young minds at PJP2 Academy

Montrose Makerspace is all about inspiration and “outside-the-box” thinking and we love every chance to see that wide-eyed excitement on anyone’s face when ideas start flooding in!

Bringing our experience and our tools into the classroom is our favorite way to maximize this excitement. By partnering with schools and volunteers, we’re hoping to see this idea-igniting spark spread like wildfire!

On Wednesday Chuck’s “Taz” 3D printer was on the move again, this time joining students at Pope John Paul II Academy in Montrose.

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After talking for only 5 minutes about “how it works,” the questions started flowing, and boy were they good ones!

  • How long does it take to make a 3d model of a car, or an octopus, from scratch?
    • A: Depends on the complexity of the object. Normally you would start with 3d shapes, much like we begin with simple 2d shapes as a guide for sketching animals or other objects on paper.
  • Can you print in any color?
    • A: Yes, filament is available in almost any color, and even several types of plastic. We even have filaments that are made with sandstone, wood, and glow-in-the-dark.
  • Can you print 2 colors in the same object?
    • A: Yes. The Taz printer currently has 1 extruder and nozzle. This means I have to “pause” the print program and manually change the colors before restarting. The printer can be upgraded with a second (or even third/fourth) extruder/nozzle, and print both colors without a pause.
  • Could you print electronics?
    • A: Kind of, although we haven’t seen a lot of this yet. Machines do exist to combine 3d printing with placement of components on a circuit board, and conductive filament is a possibility. Maybe one of you could help us figure out how to do it!

Pretty soon everyone was eager to see it in action, so we began printing our favorite octopus in translucent yellow plastic while students took turns passing around printed objects, and watching the printer do its work.

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At the end of the presentation, each student picked out their own from a family of octopodes that Chuck had printed earlier this week.

Most inspiring moment! 
While talking about 3d printed biology (kidneys, cartilage, and recently a heart), an 8th grade student asked “Could we 3d print a human?”
I really had to stop and think for a moment! In my response I explained what I read in an article about the bio-printed heart…
  • In Essence – We will eventually get to the point where we can arrange all of this cellular material into the exact pattern required to form functional muscle, vesicles, and the mechanics of a human heart. That part is very complicated, but the biggest challenge we may face once we accomplish this…. Where’s the “ON” button???
  • I found myself thinking about mind-spirit-body connection, or consciousness. Then I started questioning out loud:
    • If we could manufacture all the mechanics for a functional human body… how would “it” become alive?
    • Would it be possible for this manufactured being to ever have consciousness, feelings, and a mind of “its” own? Or would “it” remain purely mechanical?
    • If that were possible, how might we form the connection to something we know so little about? What would be the “Go” button?

Did our excitement about technology just inspire a discussion in theology?? That’s the way it happens when you have the tools to set your mind free! This is just one example of the unexpected discussions upon which we THRIVE at Makerspace!

After thanking the students for their great smiles, ideas, and questions Chuck had a chance to speak with Principal Gordon about future Makerspace activities with the school. Mr. Gordon was very impressed with our presentation in the classroom, and also interested in furthering these inspiring opportunities. Here’s a quick draft of what we want to do:

  • Take-Apart-Days – Disassemble waste electronic and household products to learn about how they work. Organize the parts for recycling, or reuse in future projects.
  • Computer Programming – Making computers obey your every command.
  • Circuits & Microcontrollers – Basic electronics exploration

Stay tuned as we forge partnerships for hands-on, applied STEM education by exciting this innovative spark in all of our youth!

If you’re interested in a workshop for your classroom, please contact us for scheduling.

 

 

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