Northborough – Seventh-grade students at the Robert E. Melican Middle School recently had the opportunity to develop their scientific modeling skills, thanks to a grant from the Northborough Education Foundation (NEF).
The grant funded special 3D printing pens, called 3Doodlers, which the students used to create a three-dimensional prototype of a scientific concept. The 3Doodlers look like a pen, but work by melting a slim plastic stick and forming it into different shapes.
NEF awarded the grant of $3,185 to Jessica Eisenlord and Danielle Leboeuf, science teachers at Melican Middle School, in September. With the funds, the teachers were able to purchase 24 3Doodler kits, which include the pen, power source, different tips and tools and a supply of plastic sticks in a variety of colors.
“The 3doodlers let our students literally create objects and bring their ideas from an idea or picture into something they can hold,” Eisenlord said. “There is nothing else available to our students that lets them experience the design process this way within the confines of their school day. It is powerful to be able to offer this experience to all our seventh graders.”
Students were given the option to choose any concept from their sixth or seventh-grade science classes that they felt could be translated into a three-dimensional prototype. Before working with the 3Doodlers, students created sketches of their designs.
Taylor Mayo created a wall and a balloon to demonstrate that opposite charges attract.
“I liked everything about 3Doodlers,” she said, “but mainly because it was hands on. It taught me how to bring my design to life and inspired me to be more creative. It was easy to get the hang of and fun to work with. I liked seeing the end product.”
Alyssa Sbordone created a roller coaster with the 3Doodler.
“I liked that we were learning about science while we were experimenting,” she said. “I liked that instead of looking at a model on a screen, it was right in front of you and you could touch it. The 3Doodlers were easy and fun to use.”
Leboeuf and Eisenlord were pleased with the students’ work and creativity during this project.
“Students were highly engaged and we were quite impressed by their interpretation of new information as well as their ability to recall detail from prior knowledge,” Leboeuf said.
The project tied in well with the Massachusetts Science Curriculum Framework which places an emphasis on active student engagement and requires that students develop and use models of different phenomena and evaluate different design solutions.
The Northborough Education Foundation (NEF) is a volunteer-run organization that provides Northborough teachers and administrators with the resources necessary to improve curriculum, programs and services beyond the level supported by the annual school budget.
For more information about NEF, to donate or learn how to become a sponsor, visit www.northboroughed.org.