Thursday, June 23, 2016

Is 3D Printing a 21st Century Skill?

In an online community which I belong, someone raised an interesting question:

Is 3D Printing a 21st Century Skill? 

I appreciate the question being asked.

I wonder why this question was asked. With my answer, I mean no offense, but 3D printing is no more a skill than printing documents.

There are sites where you can go and simply download designs, load them in the printer, and hit the print button. That is not displaying any kind of skill.

When I think about using the 3D printer, the biggest part of the learning is using the design cycle.

When you create a design to be 3D printed, it is rarely right the first time. Chances are that you will have to go back and tweak your design once or twice (or more!) before getting it right. When you add a client to what you are doing (as in MYP Design), you add empathy by having to consider someone else's needs.

The design cycle is something that we use regularly but rarely think about. Since I began teaching MYP design, I have caught myself thinking more about what I am doing. I have begun to realize when I am in the middle of a design cycle. But most importantly, I have become more reflective about what I do.

Reflection and empathy are two crucial components of the design cycle. These are not only 21st Century skills, but are life skills.

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