For many grade-schoolers, talk of mathematics and science invoke a nearly universal response: yuck.
At STARBASE Minnesota, a non-profit educational organization, instructors have found an assignment that eliminates this aversion – have the students plan a mission to Mars that includes building working rockets.
The program’s aerospace-themed curriculum provides a technology-rich environment that inspires students, builds their skills and develops aptitude and confidence. STARBASE Minnesota – funded largely by the Department of Defense and sponsored by the Minnesota National Guard – was established in 1993 to generate excitement and interest in science, mathematics and technology.
Dimension 3D Printing Accelerates Learning
Although the program had seen substantial growth and success since its inception, supporters and instructors wanted students to experience the work of engineers in a more authentic way. After spending a week designing and creating models on the computer screen, students left with only a two-dimensional image.
That’s why the Department of Defense stepped in and supplied STARBASE with Dimension 3D Printers. Now, an entire curriculum has been supplemented and student learning enhanced by adding 3D printing technology.
Instructor Christina Johnson, now in her eighth year with the program, has her students designing their own model rocket fins. “They first learn about the science behind the fins and test different rocket parts throughout the week using the wind tunnel and air rockets,” said Johnson.
After the rockets have completed flight, the students collect data about where the rocket lands and map the locations on Google Earth. They then discuss the results as engineers would and have conversations about how fin designs affected the rockets’ flight paths.
A High Flying Success
“Students can actually test their rocket designs modeled in the Dimension 3D Printer the way an engineer would, which gets them excited about the process – even the icky math part,” said Johnson. “It sparks an early interest in engineering which leads to a healthier appetite for math and science coursework after they’ve completed our program.”
“It’s amazing the impact of having the Dimension 3D Printer in the classroom,” said Johnson. “We knew the kids would love this exercise, but what’s been most surprising is to see how excited the instructors and other faculty get when they see rocket parts come to life in the Dimension 3D printer.”
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