In 2016, The Janus School received a generous grant from the Ferree Foundation to establish a 3D printing lab. Over the summer, an old computer lab was converted into a 3D printing lab that features an Ultimaker 2+, a Lulzbot Taz 5, and two Lulzbot Mini printers, along with filament and accessories.
3D printing is a technology that is starting to make its way into homes and is already being used in manufacturing and other fields. Our printers melt a plastic filament and extrude the melted plastic into thin layers, building up the layers to create the object. Innovators are discovering ways of printing with other materials as well. For example, companies are building airplane parts by printing with high quality metals that can withstand heat, while health fields are finding ways to use 3D printers to print with biomaterials.
3D printing helps build problem solving skills and can help students understand abstract concepts in concrete and tactile ways. Our Director of Academics, Director of Technology, and Educational Technology Committee have been working together to incorporate the new lab into our curriculum, bringing 3D printing into all subjects. Within a year of opening, the lab has been used by a reading class who used the printers to create a panorama of the setting of a book they are reading, complete with a little log cabin, teepees, a river, and trees. Art class used the printers to design and print Greek and Middle Eastern architecture elements. Science class created a model of the layers of the Earth. Middle Division math class made fraction circles. And geometry class designed and printed tangrams.
In addition to use in classrooms, Janus also started a 3D printing after school club for grades 6-12, where students could get a more in depth look at computer aided design and 3D printing. Students are able to work on their own designs, learning through trial and error what makes a 3D print job succeed or fail.
In the first year of use, the 3D printing lab has already showcased the creative and spatial talents that students with learning differences can possess. Janus is looking forward to another year of innovation and creation!