Imagine the 3-D Possibilities

May 29, 2014
by Ashley Johnson, PhD, Science Teacher
Printed 3-D example of a solid of rotation

The Madeira Science Department is excited to announce the arrival of a brand new Makerbot 3-D printer. We are beyond excited to add this tool to our department. As we learn about its capabilities, we are discovering so many possibilities! 

3-D printing is at the forefront of emerging digital technologies. Organizations, such as the Smithsonian, are turning to 3-D technologies to explore their collections in new and exciting ways. Check out www.3d.si.edu for their work. As the price of printers has declined, more and more people and organizations are able to harness the power of this technology. It has made it easy and fast to turn a digital design into a tangible object. 

We are eager to find ways to make our addition an asset to both our science curriculum as well as supporting the work of other departments. (As an early test, we naturally decided to print a snail! Check out the video of our Makerbot in action.)

The first objects we printed in support of an academic class were for Ms. Rumsey’s Calculus class. They have been studying solids of rotation: 3-D objects resulting from rotating a mathematical function around an axis. Understanding this idea is a challenge to some students. Visualizing an object in three dimensions is sometimes a difficult skill. Using the Makerbot, we were able to print her an example of a solid of rotation making the rotated function a true 3-D object that students could both see and touch. We look forward to expanding the application of 3-D technology throughout our campus!