By Jon Castelhano, CIO Advisor

Make It Yourself

I wrote about 3D printing in a post titled "Creative Juices" quite a while ago. Here are a few sentences on my view of 3D printing at the time:

"Another technology device that I am amazed with is the 3D printer. Maybe it is just a shiny object that is distracting to me personally, but

it seems like the device has a tremendous amount of potential to be used in schools. What better way to incorporate essential standards

into a project-based activity and actually be able tobuild a product, literally have it appear right in front of you."

My views on 3D printing have not changed, but I still haven't found a way to procure a 3D printer for my school district, something I need to work on. Since writing about 3D printers almost two years ago, I have seen 3D printers small enough to fit in a backpack. It is amazing how quickly devices improve and become more economical to produce, but it just keeps getting better.

When I saw the recent unveiling of MakerBot's Digitizer, I kept saying to myself, it just keeps getting better. My first thought, after watching the demo, was now I will be able to wreck my bicycles, come home, pull up the scan of a not-so-broken part, print it out and be back in business. After thinking about it a bit more, the possibility of using a 3D digitized scan of a stock part and then modifying to my own specifications truly intrigued me, not to mention making this happen in my garage.The Movement

It is technologies like 3D printing and digitizers that keep me thinking about our classrooms and how we are to keep up with the pace that industry moves at. I attended an ISTE session this past summer where Gary Stager was presenting, titled, "The Creative Learning Revolution You Can't Afford to Miss." Stager spoke about the maker movement and focused on three game changers: fabrication, physical computing and programming. Many of his thoughts speak to the answers that we continually ask about preparing students for today's world and that is allowing students to do things that matter through "making." Digitizers, 3D printing, and other technology I could only dream of as a kid are becoming a reality due to their affordability, and they can enhance the learning environment. If we want our students to be critical thinkers, creative, and possess 21st-century skills, they will need learning experiences that foster this in the classroom.

Jon Castelhano is director of technology for Apache Junction USD in Arizona. This blog is cross posted on his blog, This and That.