Online 3D Printing Resource for Teachers Launched in the UK
Once just a niche interest, pursued by hobbyist and technology enthusiasts, 3D printing technology has now reached a point where it pervades the spectrum of industry, with an impressive range of applications, from medicine to retail. Yet despite the obvious growth in its importance, it is still regarded as something of a niche technology by the majority of the general public – a misconception that British teacher Philip Cotton plans to rectify.
While a number of large companies in this sector have taken steps towards educating teachers and students about the opportunities that 3D printing offers – Dremel, Ultimaker, GE and MakerBot having made the biggest impact so far – their efforts have done little to shift public perception.
Cotton, in his technology class in the north of Manchester – a city built on technology innovation – has fully incorporated the technology into his courses, having his students design and produce their own 3D-printed creations, to be graded in the final assessment towards their technology qualifications. These endeavors have won the intrepid teacher numerous awards, including the title of ‘Award-Winning Educator of 2015’ at Ladybridge High School.
If Mr. Cotton’s name happens to ring a bell, it might be because of his collaborations with BeEveryCreative, the Portuguese 3D printer manufacturer, in which he helped to produce a thriving 3D printing educational package. At the same time, he is making a name for himself as the founder of 3dfilemarket.com, an online community dedicated to the sharing of 3D printing design files.
Cementing his place at the forefront of 3D printing education in the UK, as well as globally, is the workshop he runs with the UK National STEM Center, which aims to facilitate the introduction of the technology to British classrooms by providing teachers with information and resources, including LearnByLayers.com, another of Cotton’s creations. The website provides curricular support resources for teachers who have previously struggled to find comprehensive and tested courses and activities for their students.
In an interview with 3DPrint.com, Cotton laid out the ideas behind the website:
We offer a whole host of lesson plans, project ideas, assessments and more that have been designed by teachers for teachers. We believe that for 3D printing to expand the content being taught in lessons has to be lead from teachers rather than 3D printing manufacturers. Many manufactures have tried to create curriculums but they have the main aim of promoting their brand of printers. Here at LearnByLayers we don’t sell printers. We offer lesson resources to make the teaching of 3D printing straightforward and easy. There are over 100 resources published for use with middle and high school children. All of them have been tried and tested by current UK leading teachers. The resources are ready to use straight ‘out of the box’ and they can be edited by the teacher as well to suit any varying learning needs of students. We currently have schools in the UK, Australia and Singapore using the curriculum with their students with more schools joining every week.
Within a matter of months, the website has helped over 2,500 students, in over a dozen schools, to learn about 3D printing technology.