TECH BYTE: 3D Printers Help with Classroom Learning

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DADE COUNTY, Ga. (WDEF) — Technology is being implemented more and more into schools, with 3D printers becoming quite common.

One North Georgia school is using these printers to help students learn both inside and outside of the classroom.

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Nick Wilson’s advanced mechatronics class at Dade County High School designs and builds things from computer-based technology.

“We learn about electronics,” Wilson said. “We learn about robotics. We learn about mechanical systems, and we try to incorporate all those things into one idea, which is what mechatronics is really about.”

So three of Wilson’s students – Taryn York, Logan Gordy and Koty Angle – headed up a project to design a real life replica of a Lake Sturgeon for the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute.



The institute’s Sarah Sweat says this replica will be used in their classroom programs, to show people how big the Lake Sturgeon can grow.

“It’s really hard when you have a six inch juvenile sturgeon that we raise and reintroduce, and you tell people they live up to 150 years, and can grow up to six feet in length, but not actually show them, so this will actually help enhance our education programs out at the conservation institute,” Sweat said.

The students used three of the school’s 3D printers for the project.

It took them weeks of design, and months of printing, and putting the replica together.

“A lot of 3D printing, a lot of designing on a program, SolidWorks, gluing, bondo, sanding, painting. There was a lot of manual labor along with technology,” Angle said.

The finished project is as life like as the Lake Sturgeon can get.

“We made it to scale, and it’s six feet long, and it’s made of 35 different 3D printed parts, and it’s been glued together, painted, and there’s a couple little add ons to it as well,” Wilson said.

Junior Logan Gordy says this has been the most challenging project he’s done at school, but the most rewarding.

“I went from knowing just the basics of Ohm’s law in circuits, to being able to open up a computer program and design something like this, along with being able to open a different computer program, and make an entire almost microchip,” Gordy said.

This 3D printing technology definitely helps students learn – whether you’re a mechatronics student, or just visiting the conservation institute.

“Part of the reward is knowing that we’re helping building the {advanced mechatronics} class itself, getting people to notice us more, so that future classes will have more of a chance to do stuff,” York said.

You can check out the Lake Sturgeon replica in person at the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute.

You can also see a living sturgeon at the Tennessee Aquarium.

For more stories on how the latest technology can change your everyday life, visit the TechByte page.