Starkweather Elementary School

3D Modeling and 3D Printing -Library Makerspace/Projects


We would like to again thank the West Chester Area Education Foundation for their support in financing our purchase of a 3D printer and the necessary materials for use in our Library Makerspace program.

We received our order at the beginning of January 2019. Between our technology associate and myself, we were able to get our system up and running! Sarah Rosenthal took lead on the hardware, and I took lead on the 3D modeling. We are using SketchUp this year. To start us off, we printed out a 'turbine', one of the test designs that came with the printer. I then searched for other completed projects, and found a very intricate model of a wolf, our school mascot - This was presented to our principal, John Meanix.

After these two initial projects, I jumped in with both feet - and played with the SketchUp software. Utilizing online videos and the book 'Design, Animate, and Create' by Max Wainewright (purchased at our Scholastic Book fair for only $4), I was able to create an interesting building using the basics of drawing a rectangle and giving it depth.

Student Work

Library Makerspace

It has been great to teach the fourth and fifth-grade students about 3D modeling. During co-teaching with our librarian, Mary Gadaletto, I was able to connect to math concepts to which they are familiar, and for the fourth graders, preview the concepts of the third dimension, depth or height. We did a slow rollout, starting with two fourth grade classes and two fifth grade classes. As we expected, after demonstrating the basics, students took off! As you will see in the pictures, we are very impressed by their willingness to explore, modify, persevere, collaborate, and support each other. The level of peer interaction has been phenomenal.

Project Completion

Although we did not meet the goal of fifty completed projects, I feel that this project has been a huge success. Students are excited, engaged, and for most of them getting to embark on a previously unheard of adventure. We are whetting the appetites of many future engineers.

Since I was completely new to 3D modeling and 3D printing, I was a bit aggressive in my project completion estimate. Of the eight classes (all of grade four and grade 5) of students who have been taught the SketchUp software, we have about fifty percent of them with completed designs. Given the time constraint of printing each project and the cost of the materials, we are printing about three projects per class using a lottery system. We should have at least twenty-five projects printed by the end of the school year.

First student project printed - 5th grade student
Big picture

Additional Student Projects

Students at work!

Challenges and Reflections

After our initial successes, we ran into some challenges!

After printing off our first ten projects using the dark gray ABS filament, we switched material to a roll of white filament. This roll was not ABS but UltraT.......and we (the technician, Jeff, at Media Supply and myself) ran into some problems....different heating temperatures, nozzle clogging, etc.

Thank goodness for the relationship that WCASD has with Media Supply and Jeff in particular. He replaced three different parts and got us back up and running free of charge (still under warranty). He also shared some pointers with me (such as reducing the fill density to @15-20), and gave me a tool kit to use to remove some of the support material. Removing the support material is very difficult (or maybe it is for me).

I am so excited for Starkweather that we have this opportunity to share this technology with our students. We are anticipating printing 3 projects per fourth-grade and fifth-grade class until the end of the school year.

Next year, we will be using Tinker Cad for our 3D Modeling software, as SketchUp is not supported on the IPad, thus keeping this learning adventure ongoing!

Plans for the future

The Makerspace portion of this project was very successful. Students were creating, collaborating, and problem solving.

For next year, I have a few goals:

. Work closely with 4th and 5th grade teams to integrate 3D modeling into the existing curriculum. I was hopeful that students would create prototypes for the Fifth Grade Entrepreneurial Unit, and that fourth grade would create models as part of PA Day. I think this will be possible with the foundation that we have set this year.

. Create rubrics that will correspond with the above projects in order to support student growth and allow students to have an asssessment choice ('create').