Why operating with 3D printers within the school curriculum?

In an increasingly augmented society, where virtual and analog reality are inextricably linked, it is important to experiment with innovative educational models that can strengthen the ability of children and young people to build their own mind maps by fostering the growth of citizens who are critical and actively involved in the future of society.

The aim is to reflect on the relationship between tools and approaches, between technology and pedagogy, overcoming the polarization between “analog” educational paths and experiments of digital teaching strongly focused on the tool, to define a “Mediterranean approach” to the teaching of the 21st century.

This premise satisfies a general request for training young people in digital skills, but wanting also to deepen more concretely the need, unavoidable, to understand if digital paths, and in particular that of 3D printers, are effective for the training of students to global citizenship, we would like to try to highlight how technology can be useful to the traditional disciplinary curriculum, enriching it with new tools closer to the world of digital natives.

It is clear that today’s world needs people who possess skills that go beyond the knowledge and skills derived from disciplinary study, albeit fundamental.

Global society requires citizens to show the ability to plan, to be able to get involved and accept challenges, to be able to work in groups, to be able to transfer knowledge to other contexts.

The traditional lessons, usually frontal face-to-face lessons, although having given excellent results in the past, no longer meet the socio-cultural needs necessary: study and school work was based, and is still based, on the individuals, on their ability to learn knowledge transmitted uniformly to everybody.

In the various working sectors, we see how the contexts, styles and competences have changed: the ever-increasing specializations, the need to deepen the research and the applications in very limited cores of knowledge, demand those competences mentioned above.

Knowing how to work in a team, how to manage risk, the unexpected, know how to identify solutions, including creative ones, and extrapolate knowledge structures from one sector to another are skills that must be learned in order to stay in the world.

The technologies, shaped on these assumptions, are the epitome of this change of route and must be fully incorporated into the learning process.

But how? And how through the use of 3D printers?

For example, in scientific fields, projects prepared through the SugarCad program can be used, that is, through the realization of projects representing the functioning of mathematical, physical and chemical topics that are faced during the teaching programs of the primary and secondary school of first level.

Through the use of images visualized in Classroom and the discussion of the topics dealt with through group exercises, the conditions are created to experiment with the topic with realistic tasks, comparing the proposals of the various groups supported by materials, projects on which to encourage debate.

Learning to design is a key competence, so why not exploit the challenge of reproducing a project in the scientific field through the functions of the program, using experimentation and creativity to select the best idea and put into action the knowledge studied.

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