Winfree Bryant Middle School’s cafeteria partially transformed into a race track Thursday as EXTEND students from the school and Byars Dowdy Elementary School showcased finished products of a collaboration effort.
Starting Oct. 21, Margie Hawkins’ sixth-grade EXTEND class partnered with Byars Dowdy third-grade EXTEND students on a 3D printing project. The sixth-grade students worked as engineers in creating a race car for the third-grade students acting as clients in the design.
The Byars Dowdy students traveled to Winfree Bryant each Wednesday to meet with their engineering team, check out the latest design and prototype and instruct the engineers on what changes they want made.
The group used a 3D printer to create several prototypes and final products, with each car (slightly bigger than Hot Wheels) taking five to six hours to print, according to Hawkins.
Wesley Hall, with the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network and Battelle, helped spearhead the 3D printer donation to Winfree Bryant for the project.
STEM innovation Network is a partnership between the Tennessee Department of Education and Battelle in hopes of inspiring children across the state to go into STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields.
“[Hawkins] had some great ideas and had an idea on how to use this 3D printer. It looks like it has more than paid off,” said Hall, highlighting a sixth-grader doing engineering work during the event.
“We know that if you don’t get kids interested in STEM in the middle school ages, by the time they get to high school, they’re probably not as interested in going into the career path,” Hall said. “Data show that STEM education is leading to more STEM jobs in our state. So, there’s a need for a more qualified workforce.”
Hall said similar partnerships are taking place across the state and helps students gain insight into the design process.
“They had a design challenge. They designed cars initially, tested them out and saw maybe they needed some tweaks and they’ve gone back and remade their projects,” he said. “It’s like real life – try something out and see if it works to improve upon it.”
Several parents at the showcase were impressed with the racecars and design process.
“I’m completely impressed these kids had this opportunity and that they’re able to learn how to go through this process and what they’re doing with this kind of technology,” Tracey Gill said. Gill’s daughter, Evan Grace, worked on the 3D printed racecars and shared information with her mother every step of the way.
“She came home everyday that they worked on this in EXTEND telling me what they had done and what the problems were they had to solve,” Gill said. “We saw her working on it and home and working back and forth between friends trying to solve a problem. We saw how excited she was when something worked.”
Amanda Smith, Byars Dowdy Learning Leader, said she was impressed with how her third graders caught on to the Tinkercad program, which was used to create the models.
“They really learned how to use the Tinkercad program just by being there watching the sixth graders,” Smith said. “Now, it’s neat to see them taking Tinkercad, sort of a high-tech program, and make objects and create objects. Now they’re like, ‘Can we get a 3D printer? When’s your 3D printer coming?’”
Smith said she was also impressed with the printer itself.
“That is really neat and I think with parents and kids, if you just say a 3D printer, people probably have no idea what you’re talking about,” she said. “But to see it in action and see them create it from a computer program and have it print it out is pretty impressive.”
“The fun thing with this was whenever she told somebody about this project or we told other parents, friends or family about it, they were completely in awe that the possibility even existed for sixth graders,” Gill said.
“Kids all around the country in schools that are printing replacement hands for people who have lost their hands and arms and other things. Kids are doing that in school,” said Hawkins, who said she hopes this could be the start of having similar printers throughout the Lebanon Special School District.
“I think like Mrs. Hawkins said, when other schools and other people see that this sort of things is happening, that’s going to want people to spearhead and make this happen in other school systems,” Gill said.
Shared from the Lebanon Democrat, written by Xavier Smith