Students from Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School's GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) and School of Engineering programs got a unique opportunity this summer. They were invited to participate in a two-week day camp which focused on additive manufacturing.
Right out of the gate the students went hands on with the machines; they each built their own 3D printers out of kits purchased from Printrbot. Since each camper got their own 3D printer the school was able to negotiate a special deal with Printrbot. The machines (which normally retail for around $400) were offered to the school at the reduced price of $180 each. At the end of the camp each student took their 3D printer home with them. "We wanted students to build 3D printers themselves because the build process is so full of valuable lessons," said Joel Cilli, camp counselor and STEM coordinator. "Objects sometimes take hours to print, so students who have to share printers in a class end up with very limited access. We wanted kids to have unlimited access, so building their own printers was a better approach."
The kids also used freely available CAD services like TinkerCAD to design printable objects. Casey Phelan, a camper from Uniontown, PA used her 3D printer to make a gift for her brother Austin and camper Alex Daniels used his to make a variety of structural shapes. The student and parents response to the camp was overwhelmingly positive and the charter school plans to continue offering the camp each summer.
Incidentally, this isn't the first time Printrbot has worked with schools to help individual students gain access to their own 3D printers. They recently worked with the Art Institute of Chicago to develop a program where every student enrolled in their 3D design course gained access to an in-class Printrbot Simple.