3D Printers

Pennsylvania Students Build 3D Printers

For the third year in a row, students in the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School STEM program attended week-long 3D printer build workshops.

During the workshops held in Allentown, Harrisburg and the Pittsburgh suburb of Wexford, students were able to build the new Printrbot Play printer that was released just this summer. Students paid a discounted equipment fee of $200 and were able to take the kits home with them.

Joel Cilli, who runs the online school's science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program, recorded videos in advance describing all the steps involved with assembly of the Printrbot.

"The videos play at the front of the room and the students follow the steps," Cilli said. "We walk around to each person's desk to check their work and offer assistance."

He has uploaded the videos to YouTube so that they are available to anybody interested in assembling their own 3D printers. Likewise, you can find a link to the videos on the manufacturer's site.

"The 'cause' for me came from grandparents I met at science events," Cilli said. "I would hear a grandfather say he wanted to do 3D printing with his grandson, but didn't know where to start."

With the videos on YouTube, he said, that can happen more easily.

"When I was young, my dad and grandfather helped me make Pinewood Derby cars," Cilli said. "Those experiences are among my strongest childhood memories. I like to think that kids are out there watching my YouTube videos with someone who is a mentor to them, and they're going to build their first 3D printer together."

The Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School is one of the largest online public schools in the United States, with around 10,000 students. Those who participate in its STEM program take advanced classes and participate in other programs like a Raspberry PI computer workshop and the Cyber Patriot computer security competition. With full participation in the program, students can receive an additional STEM certificate when they graduate.

About the Author

Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.