How 3D printing can improve STEAM subject and classroom engagement

“By using 3D printing, teachers can introduce students to an interactive, innovative way of learning STEAM subjects,” says Ross Penman, head of global delivery management at Y Soft

STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) subjects play a crucial role in preparing the next generation of the global workforce, but engagement in these subjects is unfortunately still lagging. According to the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), children’s interest in these subjects is declining, with passion for science among 9 to 12-year olds falling 10%, and interest in design and technology falling by 12%.

The research also surveyed primary and secondary teachers and found that among the obstacles in engaging pupils in these subjects are poor resources (57%) and a lack of classroom interest (42%). However, with the constant growth rate of STEAM jobs, demand for these skillsets is high. It’s therefore important for teachers to adopt new solutions to improve STEAM subject engagement.

Time for new tools

There are several studies showing how 3D printing can improve vital skills required to excel in STEAM subjects. For example, the University of Arkansas studied 6th grade students from five different schools to see how 3D printing improved their visualisation, followed by a Q&A exam. The study revealed significant improvements from those schools that used 3D printing.

The research also provided evidence that students who retained new visualisation skills were able to complete the questions more successfully following the experiment. This is a clear indication that it’s time for schools to adopt new practical tools to help students feel more engaged and hands-on.

Create an engaging environment

One of the biggest obstacles is that these subjects can sometimes be dry and unengaging for students, and therefore pose difficulties for teaching complex topics. It’s also hard for teachers to get creative in these types of scenarios. This is where 3D printing can be play a huge role. It can offer an engaging environment for goal-oriented, project-based learning while developing critical, creative problem-solving skills using real life scenarios.

By bringing STEAM subjects to life, students will have the opportunity to explore different concepts and potentially develop a passion for pursuing a STEAM-led career. The benefits from learning these core subjects are mirrored by the benefits seen in educational 3D printing. At an early age, students need to be engaged in their learning and taught in ways that can hold their attention – like social media and gaming. The easiest way to do this is to make it fun and interesting.

Get the class involved

By using 3D printing, teachers can introduce students to an interactive, innovative way of learning STEAM subjects, encouraging creativity and experimentation, as well as showing them how to apply their skills to real-life situations. But it’s important that teachers get involved and act as an example.

The hands-on exploration of objects that are usually not available in a traditional classroom gives students the opportunity to discover their talents, and develop their personal resources for critical thinking and adaptation.

Overall, the use of 3D printing in classrooms can allow students to learn in interactive and innovative ways, encouraging creativity and experimentation while showing pupils how to apply their skills to real-life situations.

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