3D printers in education

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This page just collects a few ideas that I will expand at some point in a more general article. I also explored some of these topics in my fall 2011 STIC IV class and will implement more seriously in a fall 2013 class - Daniel K. Schneider November 2011/ oct. 2012.

See also:

Teaching of design and fabrication

“Designing—giving form to new objects or environments—is largely a question of anticipating the workings of spatial and material environments, which can become ‘reality’ only by being built. Until ‘realized’, a design is essentially a figment of the designer's imagination, although his or her ideas may be laid down and conveyed to others via specialized design media. In this way, impressions of the design may be shared with clients, colleagues or other ‘actors’ in the design process.” (Breen et al., 2003).

3D models for science and engineering lessons

Makerbot, suggests a few modules for Science and Engineering lessons with respect to New York's Learning Standards for Mathematics, Science, and Technology. As of sept. 2011, the suggested modules support:

  • Standard 1: Students will use mathematical analysis, scientific inquiry, and engineering design, as appropriate, to pose questions, seek answers, and develop solutions.
  • Standard 2: Students will access, generate, process, and transfer information using appropriate technologies.
  • Standard 5: Students will apply technological knowledge and skills to design, construct, use, and evaluate products and systems to satisfy human and environmental needs.
  • Standard 6: Students will understand the relationships and common themes that connect mathematics, science, and technology and apply the themes to these and other areas of learning.
  • Standard 7: Students will apply the knowledge and thinking skills of mathematics, science, and technology to address real-life problems and make informed decisions.

Typical examples modules are:

Models for teaching and learning

3D Printables wiki (Hod Lipson et al.) argue that “There is ample evidence that learning is enhanced through active experiences, especially when relating to spatial and physical concepts that are difficult to visualize and understand abstractly. Traditionally, dedicated educators would handcraft physical models to help demonstrate educational concepts, but such models are becoming increasingly rare due to the resources, skill and effort involved in making them, and the advent of cheaper and more flexible virtual models and computer simulations. Physical models can also aid visually impaired persons and help alleviate learning disparities associated with spatial reasoning. With the popularization of 3D-printing technologies, however, fabrication of physical models is becoming increasingly simple and readily accessible, thus enabling resurgence of this important educational medium.” (retrieved 18:00, 7 April 2010 (UTC))

This 3D printables wiki distinguishes between Kinematics Models, Mathematical Models, Molecular Biology Models, Chemistry Models, Archeological Models, Aeronautical Models and Anatomical Models (e.g. Messmer et al. 2006).


3D models to support project-oriented teaching

The idea is develop visual 2 1/2 or 3D languages with customized Lego blocks. I did hear from several people that they do that.


Teaching of 3D graphics and programming

“The algorithmic thinking inherent in computer programming is crucial to the development of understanding how information technologies work. Too often, however, teaching programming is not grounded in the student experience and the ability for novices to grasp basic computer programming concepts (Mayer, 1980) leads toessential barier of access. This barier can cause students to lose interest in learning how top rogram (Resnick et al., 2003) and, even in informal learning settings, can be limiting to the extent that cultural acceptance becomes stagnant and proliferation of a programming culture (Kafai et al., 2007) is dificult to attain.” (Fadjo et al., 2007).

Educational constructionist play worlds

The idea that children learn through making things.

See for example

Tangible and ubiquitous computing

“What I want to show is that children have always been travelling between different worlds, the virtual world and the physical world. [...] From an educational perspective, [...], we need to blend three ingredients: transitioning, which is about letting one's mind wander, or get into the flow; grounding, which is about being anchored, or "staking one's territory to know where one stands and keeping one's bearing"; and "self-orienting" - knowing where we are.” (Interview with Edith Ackermann)



One of the problems education will have to face is print speed, in particular for larger objects. Printing speed certainly will improve and prices for SLA and SLS printers that can print a bit faster are coming down.

Another solution is to print wireframes used for fast 3D printed previews (Mueller et al, 2014). The same authors also suggest substituting parts with Lego bricks or Laser-cut elements.


See also: 3D printing

Other 3D-printing in education resources


Blog and mags articles

Research groups (of some interest)

  • High-Low Tech group (MIT Media Lab). Explore the intersection of computation, physical materials, manufacturing processes, traditional crafts, and design.
  • Lifelong Kindergarten group (MIT Media Lab). Develop new technologies that, in the spirit of the blocks and fingerpaint of kindergarten, expand the range of what people design, create, and invent—and what they learn in the process
  • RepRap Invented the RepRap technology as part of their research on self-replicating machines.


Some of these entries will have to be moved to other articles, e.g. teaching how to program , 3D virtual environments. For the moment they are here, because I intend to contrast normal, virtual and physical environments.

Learning and teaching 3D

  • Aguilera, D.G., Lahoz, J.G., Learning from educational software in 3D cartography: Colloquium (2008) British Journal of Educational Technology, 39 (4), pp. 726-731. Abstract
  • Chittaro Luca and Roberto Ranon, (2008). An adaptive 3D virtual environment for learning the X3D language, Proceedings of the 13th international conference on Intelligent user interfaces, Abstract, PDF (Access restricted)
  • Figueiredo, F.C., Eber, D.E., Jorge, J.A. (2004). Refereed digital publication of computer graphics educational materials, Computers and Graphics (Pergamon), 28 (1), pp. 119-124. doi:10.1016/j.cag.2003.10.013
  • Kagawa, K. (2005). Generating Teaching Materials with Graphical Mini-languages for Multiple Programming Paradigms. In P. Kommers & G. Richards (Eds.), Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2005 (pp. 3469-3474). Chesapeakoe, VA: AACE. Retrieved from http://www.editlib.org/p/20617.

Constructive play, educational objects, tangibles and programming for kids

See tangible computing

  • Ackermann Edith; David Gauntlett and Cecilia Weckstrom (2009). Defining Systematic Creativity, LEGO Learning Institute, Summary, PDF download
  • Andersen, Frans Ørsted (2004), Optimal Learning Environments at Danish Primary Schools, LEGO Learning Institute Abstract/PDF download
  • Andersen, D; C. Bennett, P. Huynh, L. Rassbach, S. Reardon, and M. Eisenberg (2005). Printing Out Trees: Toward the Design of Tangible Objects for Education, Proceedings of Education and Technology. PDF.
  • Anderson Phil and Cherie Ann Sherman (2007). A discussion of new business models for 3D printing, International Journal of Technology Marketing, Volume 2, Number 3, 280 - 294.
  • Bekker, M.M. and Sturm, J. (2009) Stimulating Physical and Social Activity through Open-Ended Play , Interact 2009, Uppsala, Sweden, 952- 953. PDF
  • Bekker, T , Sturm, J., Wesselink, R. ,Groenendaal, B., and Eggen, B. (2008) Interactive Play Objects and the effects of open-ended play on social interaction and fun, In Proceedings of ACE, International Conference on Advances in Computer Entertainment Technologies, Yokohama Japan, 3-5 December, 389-392.
  • Bekker, T., Sturm, J. and Barakova, E. (2008) Designing for social interaction through physical play, In Extended Abstracts of conference on Fun and Games 2008, (Eindhoven, The Netherlands), 20-21 October, 62 -67.
  • Bekker, Tilde and Eggen, Berry, (2008) Designing for Children’s Physical Play, (2008), CHI 08 extended abstracts on Human factors in computing systems, Florence, Italy, 2871-2876. Abstract/PDF.
  • Bekker, Tilde; Caroline Hummels, Sam Nemeth, Philip Mendels (2010). Redefining toys, games and entertainment products by teaching about playful interactions, International Journal of Arts and Technology 3 (1) 124-135.
  • Breen Jack, Robert Nottrot, Martijn Stellingwerff (2003). Tangible virtuality--perceptions of computer-aided and physical modelling, Automation in Construction, Volume 12, Issue 6, Design e-ducation: Connecting the Real and the Virtual, November 2003, Pages 649-653, ISSN 0926-5805, DOI: 10.1016/S0926-5805(03)00053-0
  • Horváth, I. , Rusák, Z. , Van der Vegte, W. Tangible virtuality: Towards implementation of the core functionality (2009) 2008 Proceedings of the ASME International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference, DETC 2008, 35-46. Scopus Abstract
  • Lillard, A. and Else-Quest, N. (2006) The Early Years: Evaluating Montessori Education Science, Vol. 313. no. 5795, pp. 1893 - 1894
  • Markopoulos, P and Bekker, M. (2003a) Interaction design and children (Editorial). Interacting with Computers, 15(3), 141-149.
  • Piaget. J (1973). To Understand is to Invent: The Future of Education. Grossman, New York.
  • Resnick, M., Kafai, Y., Maloney, J., Rusk, N., Burd, L., &Silverman, B. (2003). A Networked, Media-Rich Programming Environment to Enhance Technological Fluency at After-School Centers in Economicaly-Disadvantaged Communities. Proposal to National ScienceFoundation.
  • Resnick, Mitchel; Amy Bruckman , Fred Martin (1996). Pianos not stereos: creating computational construction kits, interactions, v.3 n.5, p.40-50, Sept./Oct. 1996 [1]
  • Sluis-Thiescheffer, R.J.W.; M.M. Bekker, J.H. Eggen (2007) Comparing Early Design Methods for Children, Proceedings of Interaction Design and children, June 6-8, Aalborg, Denmark, 17-24.
  • Sluis-Thiescheffer, R.J.W.; How to optimize early design methods with children? In: Bekker, M.M.; Robertson, J. and Skov, M.B. (Eds); (2007) Proceeding of the 2007 conference on Interaction Design and Children, p. 201-204.
  • Thang, B. , R.J.W. Sluis-Thiescheffer, M.M. Bekker, and J.H. Eggen (2008) Comparing the Creativity of Children’s Design Solutions Based on Expert Assessment, Proceedings of Interaction Design and children, June 11 - 13, Chicago (USA), 266-273.
  • Zuckerman, Oren (2006, in preparation), Historical Overview and Classification of Traditional and Digital Learning Objects MIT Media Laboratory, 20 Ames Street, Cambridge, MA 02139. PDF - CiteSeer Abstract.
  • Zuckerman, Oren (2010). Designing digital objects for learning: lessons from Froebel and Montessori, International Journal of Arts and Technology 3 (1) 124-135. (Access restricted).

3D CAD/CAM education

  • Ansari, J. (2007). Hands-on solid modeling experiences in a course project, ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings, 9 p. Abstract
  • Chan, M., Black, J., Han, I.S., Vitale, J., Xia, Q., Subramanian, M., Du, M. & Kang, S. (2007). "Look, it's turning!" Factors Affecting Structural and Functional Knowledge Acquistion in an Elementary School Robotics Classroom. In C. Montgomerie & J. Seale (Eds.), Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2007 (pp. 1626-1631). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. Retrieved from http://www.editlib.org/p/25589.
  • Charlesworth, Chris (2007). Student Use of Virtual and Physical Modelling in Design Development - An Experiment in 3D Design Education, The Design Journal, Volume 10, Number 1, March 2007 , pp. 35-45(11). Abstract
  • Chowdhury, A.A., Mazid, A.M. (2009). Computer integrated manufacturing education to mechanical engineering students: Teaching, research and practice, Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Industrial Technology, art. no. 4939736, Abstract
  • Chui, W.H., Wright, P.K. A WWW computer integrated manufacturing environment for rapid prototyping and education (1999) International Journal of Computer Integrated Manufacturing, 12 (1), pp. 54-60 Abstract
  • Cliff Dave; Claire O'Malley and Josie Taylor (2008). Future issues in socio-technical change for UK education, Beyond Current Horizons, Report commissioned by the UK Department for Children, Schools and Families. PDF
  • Cohen, H.G. (1983). A comparison of the affect of two types of student behavior with manipulatives on the development of projective spatial structures. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 20(9), 875-883
  • Condoor, S. Integrating Design in Engineering Graphics Using Feature-based, Parametric Solid Modeling (1999) 29th ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, pp. 12d2-13-12d2-17
  • Csanyi, G.S., Reichl, F. & Jerlich, J. (2007). New Teaching Strategies and the Interaction between Continuing Engineering Education and Regular Engineering Study Programmes. In C. Montgomerie & J. Seale (Eds.), Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2007 (pp. 2780-2785). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. Retrieved from http://www.editlib.org/p/25763.
  • Howard, W., Musto, J. (2006). Solid Modeling as the Cornerstone of an Introduction to Engineering Course, Proceedings of the 2006 ASEE Annual Conference.
  • Jensen, Daniel; Chris Randell, John Feland and Martin Bowe (2002). A Study Of Rapid Prototyping For Use In Undergraduate Design Education, Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition. PDF
  • Jensen, Daniel; Chris Randell, John Feland, Martin Bowe (2002). A Study Of Rapid Prototyping For Use In Undergraduate Design Education, Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition. PDF
  • Messmer Peter, Felix Matthews, Augustinus Ludwig Jacob, Ron Kikinis, Pietro Regazzoni and Hansruedi Noser (2006), A CT Database for Research, Development and Education: Concept and Potential, Journal of Digital Imaging 20 (1), 17-22. Abstract/PDF/HTML
  • Pasko, A., Adzhiev, V. Constructive function-based modeling in multilevel education (2009) Communications of the ACM, 52 (9), pp. 118-122+10. [Abstract
  • Radharamanan, R., Jenkins, H.E. (2008). Laboratory learning modules on CAD/CAM and robotics in engineering education, International Journal of Innovative Computing, Information and Control, 4 (2), pp. 433-443. Abstract
  • Shih, Naai-Jung (2006). RP-aided computer modeling for architectural education, Computers & Graphics, Volume 30, Issue 1, February 2006, Pages 137-144, ISSN 0097-8493, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cag.2005.10.014 DOI: 10.1016/j.cag.2005.10.014]
  • Sridhara, B., Taylor, R. (2007). Application of CADD/CAM to engineering technology courses and some real-life projects, ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings, 17 p. Abstract
  • Walker, E.L., Cox, B. (1999). Technological applications of solid modeling and parametric features Journal of Industrial Technology, 15 (3), 5 p. Cited 2 times. Abstract
  • Yan-Fang, Y. (2009). To probe into 3D CAI model of engineering graphics based on software, 2nd IEEE International Conference on Computer Science and Information Technology, ICCSIT 2009; Beijing; 8 August 2009 through 11 August 2009. Abstract
  • Zeid, A., Kamarthi, S. CAD/CAM library of parts and assemblies for engineering curricula (2008) ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, Proceedings, 7, pp. 517-525. Abstract
  • [Chen, M.-S., Chan, M., Wilson, D. Integrattng cad/cam and composite tooling technologies in a research experience (2007) ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings, 9 p. Abstract

CS and Math education, Use of 3D modeling/animation

  • Cooper, S., Dann, W., & Pausch, R. (2000). Alice: a 3-D tool for introductory programming concepts. Journal of Computing in Small Colleges, 15(5), 107-116
  • Daghestani, L., Ward, R.D., Xu, Z., Al-Nuaim, H. (2008). The design, development and evaluation of virtual reality learning environment for numeracy concepts using 3D virtual manipulatives Proceedings - Computer Graphics, Imaging and Visualisation, Modern Techniques and Applications, CGIV, art. no. 4626990, pp. 93-100. Abstract
  • Govender, I. & Grayson, D. (2006). Learning to program and learning to teach programming: A closer look. In E. Pearson & P. Bohman (Eds.), Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2006 (pp. 1687-1693). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. Retrieved from http://www.editlib.org/p/23232.
  • Greer, J. & Sherrell, L. (2005). Using AgentSheets to Introduce the List Data Structure. In P. Kommers & G. Richards (Eds.), Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2005 (pp. 3129-3134). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. Retrieved from http://www.editlib.org/p/20562.
  • Mayer, R. E. (1981). The Psychologyof How Novices Learn Computer Programming, Asociation for National Research Council Committee on Information Technology Literacy. (1999). Being fluentwith information technology. Washington, DC:NationalAcademyPress.
  • Mimoto, Y. & Kagawa, K. (2008). A Framework for Web-based Applications for Learning Programming using Eclipse RCP. In J. Luca & E. Weippl (Eds.), Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2008 (pp. 2253-2264). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. Abstract/PDF (Access restricted)
  • Pattis, R (1981). Karel the Robot: A Gentle Introduction to the Art of Programming with Pascal, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
  • Phelps, A. M., Egert, C. A., Bierre, K. J., and Parks, D. M. (2005). An open-source CVE for programming education: a case study. In ACM SIGGRAPH 2005 Courses (Los Angeles, California, July 31 - August 04, 2005). J. Fujii, Ed. SIGGRAPH '05. ACM, New York, NY, 1. DOI:10.1145/1198555.1198686
  • Prompramote, S., Blashki, K. & Goward, P. (2006). Design Guidelines For Children Programming In School Environment. In E. Pearson & P. Bohman (Eds.), Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2006 (pp. 2404-2409). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. Retrieved from http://www.editlib.org/p/23345.
  • Shanmugasundaram, V., Juell, P., Groesbeck, G. & Makosky, M. (2006). Evaluation of Alice World as an Introductory Programming Language. In E. Pearson & P. Bohman (Eds.), Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2006 (pp. 1976-1982). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. Retrieved from http://www.editlib.org/p/23278.
  • Smith, K.B. (1996). Guided Discovery, Visualization, and Technology Applied to the New Curriculum for Secondary Mathematics. Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching, 15(4), 383-399. Charlottesville, VA: AACE. Retrieved from http://www.editlib.org/p/20960.

Fablabs, 3D printers and similar in education

  • Dlodlo, Nomusa and Ronald Noel Beyers (2009). The Experiences of South-African High-School Girls in a Fab Lab Environment, Proceedings Of World Academy Of Science, Engineering And Technology Volume 37 January 2009 Issn 2070-3740. PDF Reprint
  • Eisenberg, M. and Buechley, L. (2008). Pervasive Fabrication: Making Construction Ubiquitous in Education Journal of Software, 3:4, pp. 62-68. PDF
  • Fadjo, C., Shin, J., Lu, M., Chan, M. & Black, J. (2008). Embodied Cognition and Video Game Programming. In J. Luca & E. Weippl (Eds.), Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2008 (pp. 5749-5756). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. Abstract/PDF (Access restricted).
  • Kafai, Y.B., Peppler, K.A., & Chin, G. (2007). High Tech Programmers in Low Income Communities: Creating a Computer Culture in a Community Technology Center. In C. Steinfeld, B. Pentland, M. Ackermann, & N. Contractor(Eds.), Proceedings of the Third International Conferenceon Communities and Technology(pp. 545-562). New York:Springer.
  • Thornburg,David and Norma Thornburg, and Sara Armstrong (2014). The Invent To Learn Guide to 3D Printing in the Classroom: Recipes for Success.
  • Knapp M., Wolff R., Lipson H. (2008), "Developing printable content: A repository for printable teaching models", Proceedings of the 19th Annual Solid Freeform Fabrication Symposium, Austin TX, Aug 2008. PDF.
  • Sylvia Libow Martinez and Gary S. Stager (2013). Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering the Classrooom, Constructing Modern Knowledge Press, ISBN: Print 978-0-9891511-0-8, http://www.inventtolearn.com/
  • Regiec, A. (2005). Squeaking Their Way into Computer Technology: A Study of Middle School Girls and Creative Computer Programming. In P. Kommers & G. Richards (Eds.), Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2005 (pp. 2311-2316). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. Retrieved from http://www.editlib.org/p/20417.
  • Wohlers, T. (2005). 3D Printing in Education: How High Schools, Colleges, and Universities Leverage 3D Printing Technology. Time-Compression Technologies, Sept/Oct 2005. HTML


  • Stefanie Mueller, Sangha Im, Serafima Gurevich, Alexander Teibrich, Lisa Pfisterer, François Guimbretière, and Patrick Baudisch, WirePrint: Fast 3D Printed Previews, http://stefaniemueller.org/ PDF
  • Viteli, J. (2006). Learning with Sharing - Web 2.0. In E. Pearson & P. Bohman (Eds.), Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2006 (pp. 1332-1335). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. Retrieved from http://www.editlib.org/p/23175.