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Science, Technology, Engineering & Math | News

Pennsylvania Cyber Students Explore 3D Printing at Hands-On Summer Camp

Students from Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School's GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) and School of Engineering programs were offered the opportunity to participate in a unique two-week day camp over the summer at the school's satellite campus in Greensburg, PA.

Students' first task at the camp was to build 3D printers using kits from Printrbot. After the 3D printers were complete, they were used to do some actual 3D printing. The printers went home with students at the end of the camp.

"We wanted students to build 3D printers themselves because the build process is so full of valuable lessons," said Joel Cilli, camp counselor and research and development coordinator for the school's science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) program, in a release.  "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 3D printers the students built typically retail for $400, according to a release, but because the school purchased the kits in bulk and offset part of the cost the expense was reduced to $180 per camper.

Students used freely available 3D modeling programs, according to a release, to create their own designs and develop skills with CAD-style software. Completed projects included stands for a student's Nook tablet, gifts for family members and replacement parts for a student whose printer malfunctioned.

About the Author

Kevin Hudson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Oregon. He can be reached at sportswryter@yahoo.com.

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