By Grayson Wade, 8th grader
During my time as a middle schooler, I have come to realize that The Philadelphia School creates virtual spaces for its students to experiment and explore concepts all on their own. One of those exploratory areas of study is 3D design. Our MacBooks this year came equipped with apps like Blender and SketchUp, which are both platforms to originate unique CAD (Computer-Aided Design) files and models.
As a member of the TPS SWATT (Students With Aptitude Toward Technology) community service group, my classmates and I were tasked with putting together two donated FlashForge 3D printers. After constructing the hardware, the students of SWATT tried to figure out what to print and how to design it. We quickly decided we were going to make a smartphone case with the TPS logo on it. During this discernment process, we were introduced to an open-sourced program called Blender. Blender is fairly easy to use, and when combined with a replicator app, it can print STL files designed in it. (It also does animation!) This type of program opened the door to limitless possibilities. In the future, we thought it could be utilized to make an art project, animate something for a prototype presentation, or create something to sell in the school store.
The Technology Department told us that while our school was filled with master teachers, there were also an infinite amount of trusted experts sharing their knowledge and broadcasting instructions on how to do something (like print an original CAD file) on YouTube. After watching a few YouTube tutorials, I was able to create an animation of a plane flying around and doing tricks. This was all completed in my free or workshop time this year, but I can imagine a future when there could be an entire period dedicated to exploring 3D design and printing, perhaps as part of an intensive or mini course. When technology plays a role in classrooms, some amazing things, previously unimaginable, can result.