One day in March, third through fifth grade self-contained teacher Makenzy Holdren sent me an email, and what a great email it was! The email said that her students had been learning all about the Olympics, which is a 3rd grade content standard. It said that they had been integrating both fiction and non-fiction books into their reading and social studies times, and breaking down a part of the Olympics to discuss each day. They had also studied various types of olympic medals and done some research about the medal counts from the 2012 summer games for use in their math lessons. What her email said she needed from me was a 3D printer to take her Olympic Unit to an entirely new level.
The next step in this STEAM project for Mrs. Holdren’s students was for them to team up with a few of their 4th grade peers to learn about 3D design software, and to design their very own Olympic medals in preparation for the 2016 Special Olympics that was just a few weeks away.
After that, students took the ideas they had for their medals and used Tinkercad, a web-based 3D design software, to turn those ideas into actual 3D computer model files. Once they had created their 3D files, the students were able to send them to the Makerbot Mini 3D printer that Mrs. Holdren had checked out for her classroom. After the printing was complete, a quick touch of paint and some ribbons resulted in each student having an amazingly special olympic medal that they had personally imagined, designed, and printed as the culmination of their Olympic Games unit.
Way to go Mrs. Holdren for a great example of how STEAM-based learning is both appropriate and accessible for all students! Your students did some incredible work!