Cool at School: 3D printer gives students new opportunities

LAS VEGAS -- Sometimes a collaboration between a company and a school can encourage the broadening of minds. 

Students at Cashman Middle School are getting introduced to a 3-dimendional printer. It sounds like an ancient dot matrix printer, but it is cutting edge, essentially brand new technology. As soon as the students see it, they are excited by the possibilities.

"I think they're an interesting piece of technology," said Blake Baumunk, a seventh grader.

This collaboration between the company and school is not a class, it's an after-school program. The students, anywhere from 25 to 30, attend on their own, four days a week.

"We designed it as kind of a way to get kids more interested in the STEM things we're doing at our school," said Guy Wadas, who teaches 3-D modeling.

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

"A lot of kids are very interested in computers. Some in printing. Some in designing things," Wadas said.

The program at Cashman is only eighth weeks old, but like the 3-D printer itself, it's building.

"I made a cup, this mini-mouse and a purse," said Cindy Gomez, a sixth grader.

She says the cup is good enough to actually use for drinking.

Local businessman Mike Halvorson donated the printer and the software. The students are beta testing it. A 3-D printer works by using bio-degradable plastic, in spools, heated up and printed, in layers, to form objects. Sixth grader Noah Pastor is in the design phase.

"I have a gear and I have my train that I've already printed," he said.

"I joined it because I'm interested in this kind of stuff in designing certain objects and make them in real life," said Blake Baumunk, a seventh grader.

 


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