Building a lesson in new technology 

East Elementary School students learning basics of 3-D printing

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East Elementary School students watch as a 3-D printer creates a mold. (Photos courtesy of Cullman City Schools)

CULLMAN, Ala. – It’s never too early to start learning about emerging technology, and students across grade levels at East Elementary School are getting a firsthand look at 3-D printing and its many uses — from printing parts on the space station, to making superhero figures. 

East Elementary library media specialist Savannah Wood said the school has spent the past week using its 3-D printer as part of the curriculum, teaching students the basics of how it works and functions, from loading a design, to physically creating a 3-D model print. A 3-D printer works by “printing” a plastic material in layers, eventually constructing a full 3-D object from a pre-loaded design.  

“They love to watch it print,” Wood explained. “For the older students, they are learning more terminology and how these printers are used in the real world to create mechanical parts for machines and such.” 

Students are learning how to search through available designs and objects that can be printed, and working together, they’ve landed on some creative options — things like a cat model in honor of the school’s resident pet cat Cubbie, a Spider-Man bust and a model alligator. 

Though there’s not enough supply for every student at the school to print something, the prints have proven so popular that Wood said they plan to use it as an incentive for reading assignments and achievements next year. 

Wood continued, “Right now, my main focus is exposure for these young kids, but it’s a doorway to start teaching them how relevant 3-D printers are in our current world. 

(Photos courtesy of Cullman City Schools)