This Blog Post is from our Friends at Ultimaker and it was written by Caspar de Vries -
The kids at primary school De Singelier learn about STEM in a fun and engaging way. They build rockets from PET bottles using 3D printed parts and launch them using water pressure. As the children go through multiple iterations to arrive at a working design, they learn about the nature of design and development; about identifying the flaws in preceding versions, learning from it and improving the rocket accordingly. Read on to find a comprehensive lesson plan to incorporate this project into your school's educational program.
The class covers all aspects of designing the rocket; from stencil drawing to designing in TinkerCad to 3D printing the parts. Kids are encouraged to test their designs and see what works. Is the nose cone sharp enough? What shape should the wings have? What happens if you play around with different designs? They embark on an explorative journey of trial and error to finally arrive at a design that gets the rocket high up in the air.
Every device around us was once tested by someone, has failed, and has been improved again. That's a great learning experience for the students to have.
According to Freek van Iersel, a 7th grade teacher at De Singelier, an important aspect of this project is that the children get to see that it is OK if an idea fails. Every device we use in our daily lives was once tested, then improved upon and tested again - it's how the design process works. For the kids, it is valuable to learn that while some ideas work out better than others, a failed attempt should be approached as an opportunity for improvement rather than mere failure. The example of this school shows how a rocket project is used to this end, but there are innumerable other ways to engage your students in a fun way through 3D printing.
3D printing allows children to turn their ideas into tangible objects. It stimulates their creativity and encourages them to rethink their previous designs. Projects like these significantly impact the learning experience of the students - by finding out for themselves how certain ideas work in practice, they will remember the lessons they learnt more vividly when compared to only reading or hearing about it.