3D Printer STEM – STEM Projects Improved With A 3D Printer
3D Printer STEM projects are all the rage in our house (Science Technology and Engineering and Maths projects). With an engineer and teacher in our house, our girls aren’t going to get away from the fun of problem solving and building. In our house, its a whole family activity that is made easier with our 3D printer!
What I didn’t realise ,when we bought our first 3D printer 18 months ago, was how useful it was going to be in creating rich learning environments for our girls. 3D Printer STEM has taken what would have been an average to good STEM project into projects that really work well and turned the projects in toys our kids want to play with.
The best bit is – if you don’t have the parts for the project you like, you just make them!
It’s a perfect tool to stretch upper primary+ kids or make it a family activity by getting mum or dad involved in critical parts.
I’ve been browsing STEM projects for a while when I stumbled onto Left Brain Craft Brain. They have a brilliant STEAM bored jar which has a list of 50 projects. My trouble was that I was missing critical items. That’s where our STEM projects became 3D Printer STEM!
A home schooling dad recently bought one of our DIY 3D printer kits because he wanted to try out 3D printers with his kids without paying a fortune. We told him that he wouldn’t be sorry. There are so many projects out there that can be adapted or extended with a 3D printer. They are perfect for budding little scientists and engineers to develop their problem solving and design abilities!
Feel free to check out our kits at 3D Printers Plus. We made a model that anyone with average DIY skills can put together.
Here’s some of our projects we’ve done recently.
3D Printer STEM Project 1 – The Water Wheel
I knew the principles of STEM were working in our house when our 3 year was watching Play School and saw them making a water wheel. She turned around and asked if we could make one too. I smiled!
We didn’t have Play School’s materials but we did have a bbq wheel, plastic shot glasses, cable ties and tape. Unfortunately though, our rod didn’t quite fit the hole in wheel. It was a STEM project that definately worked but it slopped around a bit. 10mins later, Craig came back with a little bushing he quickly printed up on our 3D printer. Our little girl’s fingers where soon putting the wheel back on the rod with the 3D printed bushing and we were back into testing mode! The wheel ran cleaning and the project was a great success! The best bit is she now sits in a big bucket and gets the wheel running with water to spray all over herself on a hot day.
3D Printer STEM Project 2 – The Indoor Pulley
The indoor pulley was another winner with our 3 year old. We used the 3D printer to house a couple of little bearings we had lying around the house. The challenge was then for our little one to to create a basket system to carry marbles. She told me what we could use to put holes in the styrofoam tray and then helped in cutting and threading the string. When we were done, she got her counting finger out to work out that she could take 28 marbles in the lift to the roof.
Of course, it was too good a project to leave for just transporting marbles. We had to build some sky scrapers. We counted out the 53 blocks for each “floor” and then put stickers on the floor for places where the lego people could get off. Floor 22 was a favourite where she set up the ice cream shop and had people going up and down the “lift” to get their snacks.
3D Printer STEM Project 3 – The Balloon Car and Sailing Car
I had wanted to experiment with making some cars with Ashley for a while and I knew the Balloon Powered Car was going to be a good place to start. I asked Craig if he had any dowel or something we could use for wheels. Everything we found in the garage was going to be just too heavy. An hour later he came back with 3 sets of light weight, multi sized plastic wheels for us to experiment with. Ashley weighed a couple of different bases I had lying around and decided that the pool noodle was the lightest and probably going to be the best. I love the reasoning!
I think my favourite part of this project was watching the delight in our little girl AND the husband as the car did burn outs on the kitchen tiles (one of the axles wasn’t 100% straight.)
There was wind gusting outside that afternoon so we figured it was worth making a sail car with the other set of wheels. The car came to life and took off all over our back area. With just a random stick, cellophane and the straws to reduce friction on the axle, we were off in no time.
What We Learnt
- Nothing is too tricky (something Ashley has been saying for a little while) because tricky is just a great chance to solve a problem.
- You don’t need to go shopping for some of the best STEM projects. Use a 3D printer to make whatever you are missing. Winner!
Check out our website 3D Printers Plus for more blogs on 3D printers and home schooling and to find out more about the 3D printers we have for sale.
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