By Melanie Petrucci, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – What does an elementary student working on an important project do to create a shrunken giant? She contacts the Shrewsbury Public Library to use their state-of-the-art 3D printer. Recently, a student on an elementary-level Destination Imagination (DI) team was in need of a way to illustrate a plot point in the performance component at a recent competition. She needed to show her character, a giant, who drinks a magic shrinking potion during the team’s performance skit, in shrunken form.
Destination Imagination (DI) is a worldwide organization that promotes creativity and innovation among students from kindergarten to college, adhering to the academic disciplines of science, technology, engineering, arts and math. The team of seven third- and fourth-graders from Shrewsbury elementary schools are led by team managers Vidya Sambasivan and Arjola Terova. The team includes their daughters.
In a recent competition, the team had to complete a “Structural Challenge” incorporating the creation of a weight-bearing structure demonstrated in a seven-minute performance. The team developed a story featuring a giant for their performance. The team member who played the giant was fascinated with 3D modeling and had the idea of using the library’s printer to represent her character in shrunken form. She met with Shrewsbury Public Library Reference Librarian Walker Evans, who instructed her on how to use the printer. She learned TinkerCAD, the recommended program, and was on her way. The cost of the printing came to $5, well within the team’s budget. At the competition, they came in second place and won the Renaissance Award for design and innovation.
Sambavisan said that “the team had such good things to say about the experience working with Walker and the 3D printer.”
According to Walker, “3D printing is becoming more common in libraries as they transform into community centers. Libraries are not just about information acquisition but also imagination and innovation manifested in hands-on creativity.”
He noted that the library acquired the printer last summer with funding from its technology budget.
“The library has room in its budget to stay in the forefront of emerging technology and that is important to us,” Walker said. “It’s been embraced by the community and has been steadily in use. It is a service that the library provides, very much like the library’s copy machine.”
Library staff will print a submitted print job (either original or downloaded) for a fee of $.15 per gram.
“We want to keep the barrier of entry relatively low,” Walker explained. “We want it to be used by as many people as possible.”
Uses include replicating a character from a movie, a toy, a game piece, a replacement part for a household item or a prototype of a product. Objects printed can be as specific in shape as needed.
The library offers a 3D printing resource guide and classes are available to help people get started. Turnaround time is short and cost is low, making the printer a great asset.
Recently, the library was invited to the State House for Library Legislation Day where libraries from across the commonwealth came together to showcase innovation. SPL demonstrated its 3D printing capability using solicited models from its users, including a model of the State House itself.
“It was such a pleasure to work with Vidya and Arjola’s DI team and this is exactly the sort of application we want to see,” Walker said. “We are excited that many segments of the community are making things and being creative.”
For more information, visit https://shrewsburyma.gov/344/Library.