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Using technology to achieve multi-departmental collaboration

Kristen Eddery of Daemon 3D Print explores the applications of the technology across STEM and the arts

Posted by Rob Bertels | September 29, 2017 | Secondary

All educators grapple with finding constant balance within their classroom. Striving to create flourishing learning environments where the balance between the level of skill and the size of the challenge are in perfect harmony for every student can prove to be easier said than done. Critiquing and analyzing the areas which are in need of improvement always include engagement, participation and the overall classroom dynamics of their students.

Achieving optimal levels of performance where work effortlessly flows out can be created through this gentle, yet consistent balance, this is defined as “finding flow.” Researchers have found that those who enter a state of “flow” are in their most creative, productive, and happiest states of mind.  

One of the most successful methods to achieve consistent states of “flow” is through school-wide collaboration and multi-departmental collaboration with the use of technology and Research Based Education techniques.

Students possess a deep desire to be in control of their own learning process, guiding their own experimentation through trial and error. Creating structured spontaneity within the classroom by incorporating 3D printing with Research Based Education Techniques, gives students and educators the space and freedom they require within the framework of traditional academia to bump up against challenges, acknowledge uncertainty, and nurture patience and determination to find the confidence and curiosity within themselves to persevere and find solutions.

Researchers have found that those who enter a state of “flow” are in their most creative, productive, and happiest states of mind. 

Research Based Education fosters intrinsic motivation, as this is what determines the direction, intensity, consistency, and quality of student’s learning. Essentially, research based learning cultivates self-directed learning (those characterized as having high intrinsic motivation, curiosity and perseverance) and induces optimal states for participation which subsequently piques creativity and leads to more productivity. RBE successfully incorporates the use of both the creative process and the scientific method into the course structure which encourages independent learning with open outcomes.

Being able to bring the scientific method alive with artistic creativity is the key to successful multi-departmental integration of STEM subjects with arts, music and drama. A clear and simple way of modelling this is implementing the use of the creative process used in the arts, music and drama departments combined with the scientific method used in STEM. From a superficial perspective they both seem markedly different, however, they both involve following cyclical steps of revision, rehearsal, and repetition whilst making adjustments along the way.

This approach is the most effective and efficient at integrating multi-departmental curricula collaboration through the use of technology, especially in STEM, arts, music, and drama departments. Integrating Research Based Techniques naturally encourages multi-departmental cooperation, as well as promotes healthy communication and dynamics.

RBE Techniques used to effectively integrate STEM into arts curricula include:

  • Brainstorming exercises; Connect material to other interests; Provide real world, authentic tasks; Show task/lesson relevance to students’ lives; Provide structure of lessons and courses; Have students draw concept maps; Create opportunities to apply skills in diverse contexts; Break up larger tasks into smaller assignments; Look for patterns of error in students work; Incorporate peer and student feedback.

Successful techniques used to incorporate the arts, music and drama departments into STEM include:

  • Encourage spontaneous movement and exercise during lessons; use exaggerated facial expressions and body language; use laughter and humour to ease transitions and break routine to stimulate creativity (songs, dance, gestures and actions); acknowledge both positive and negative emotions during lessons, discussions and projects.

Integrating Research Based Techniques naturally encourages multi-departmental cooperation, as well as promotes healthy communication and dynamics.

Technology in schools is now streamlined, with more educators offering students the option of BYOD—Bring Your Own Device. Many devices possess the capability to work on Open Source platforms giving students and educators alike the opportunity to share projects more easily between several departments and classrooms. Students become more productive and focused in their work and empowered through critical thinking, problem solving and self-directed learning.

Achieving this balance is most successful when adopting the use of 3D printers in classrooms. Students have reported that 3D printing projects were more enjoyable when they were able to share their challenges and triumphs with peers in a group environment. They become resilient, resourceful and begin to build upon their knowledge by discovering creative ways to find solutions.

3D printers have been mislabeled as a ‘One Trick Pony,’ under the guise that they are only capable of being most effective when used solely in STEM and DT classes alone. On the contrary, 3D printers are in the unique position of being able to bridge the divide between the scientific and artistic communities, which greatly inhibits students’ learning. 3D printing is the perfect catalyst to introduce multi-departmental curricula assimilation, as its benefits are far reaching being used in every field imaginable: fashion, aerospace, optometry, automotive, music, sports, food, healthcare, pottery, and theatre.

3D printing ideas for all subjects:

  • Art: create sculptures, jewellery and pottery
  • Biology: design cross-section models of organs
  • Business: product and marketing development
  • Chemistry: create 3D models of molecules, atoms, and particles
  • Earth Sciences: print cross-sections of the Earth, physical models of storms and fossils
  • Engineering: build bridges, buildings and design prototypes
  • Food Technology: create gluten free pastries, raspberries, and design moulds
  • Foreign Language: print cultural artefacts/articles
  • Geography: create topographic, population and demographic maps
  • History: print historic/ancient artefacts, buildings and statues
  • Mathematics: design games with fractions, print the Fibonacci Spiral or show the concurrency of triangles
  • Music: create temporary/replacement mouthpieces for instruments
  • Physical Education: print custom cricket bats, whistles and other sports equipment
  • Religious Studies: print models of cathedrals, ancient texts and symbols

3D printing’s design cycle is very similar to both the creative process and scientific method, its stages include: Investigate, Plan, Design, Create and Evaluate. With 3D printing, both the scientific method (Observe, Question, Hypothesize, Experiment, Analyse, and Conclude), and the creative process can be applied to every subject in every department all year long, thus encouraging inter-departmental and cross-curricula collaboration.

3D printing is the perfect catalyst to introduce multi-departmental curricula assimilation, as its benefits are far reaching being used in every field imaginable

The design process for 3D printing gives students the ability to spend quality time actively engaged in the experimentation and analysis steps by designing and evaluating their prints to make them as effective and efficient as possible. Creation/production is a single step process which is not dependent on any other stages, enabling faster iteration, decision making and a quicker response time to changes.

While STEM departments emphasize a universal comprehension, the arts departments focuses on the understanding of personal experiences. As two sides of the same coin, this offers students the ability to develop a holistic approach through adopting both internal and external perspectives of perceiving both the entire forest and the individual trees.

3D printing does not only enhance students’ interpersonal skills, but also educators as well. The adoption of 3D printing strongly encourages dynamic interactions between departments and boosts school-wide moral, and emboldens educators from opposite ends of the design spectrum to assimilate new techniques in their routine.

3D printing is not a solution in and of itself; however, it allows educators and students alike to adapt curricula to the individual and urges learning environments to become student-centered rather than teacher-focused, collaborating across departments to create a school-wide curricula that is just as challenging as it is inspiring.

For more feedback, resources and tips please visit daemon3Dprint.com. The expert professionals offer full-service support as well as a wide range of 3D printers suitable for educational and professional use.   

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