How can 3D printing change the way we think about education?

When reading the essential question this week, I reflected on it a little deeper before starting my research. My only experiences with 3D printing had been what I have seen on television. In order to gain more perspective, I decided to find out a little bit more about 3D printing and how it is changing our world today.

Leapfrog (n.d.) describes their machines as big and sturdy that have one open side. This allows students to view the printing process while it happens. Their machines are made for educational purposes and come with curriculum guides for 3D lessons. Federico-O’Murchu (2014) illustrates the way 3D printing has changed the world. 3D printing allows for the manufacturing of goods domestically, such as cars, food, etc. Further predictions state that 3D printing will make life today barely recognizable in approximately fifty to seventy five years and the demise of construction and agriculture industries could be coming. 3D printing can be used to create many things: headphone wraps, cherry pit removers, cellphone cases, etc (Business Insider, 2015), but what exactly does all this 3D printing mean for the world of education.

3D printing has many benefits for the world of education. Providing visual aides for students, gaining the interest of students, enhancing hands-on learning, and more interactive class activities name a few of those benefits (Educational Technology and Mobile Learning, 2013). There is a vision out there that every student in America will have a 3D printer on their desk in the future to help with STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) principles (McCue, 2011). However, 3D technology can aid in more subjects than just those related to STEM fields. For example, geography and history. Students can create mountain ranges, rivers, etc or museum artifacts that were previously ‘no touching’ (Krassenstein, 2014). Students can have access and touch things they didn’t know where possible. This technology takes our students from passive consumers into active creators (Educational Technology and Mobile Learning, 2013).

In my mind, I can see many possibilities for where 3D printing can go in the world of education. I see students who struggle in certain areas now having access to a device/tool to help them grasp concepts. I see engaged students, who will be enthralled when watching their own creations come to life. I imagine our science fair projects no longer being projects students come up with (or replicate off the web) but having students enter into a technology fair – students becoming inventors and creators of their own inventions. Students are designing and printing their own ideas. If it doesn’t work the first time, they are reworking their idea and printing it again (McCue, 2011). It is comparable to guessing and checking work in math. It provides students with ownership for their idea and further a community focus for students working together collaboratively. 3D printers can be tied to every subject area. In reading, instead of having students draw a map of the town they’ve read about, they could 3D print it. In math, students can use the printer to bring to life equations. The possibilities are endless (Federico-O’Murchu, 2014).


Business Insider. (2015). 23 useful things you can make with a 3-D printer. Retrieved June 28, 2015, from

Educator Technology and Mobile Learning. (2013). Importance of 3D printing in education. Retrieved June 28, 2015, from

Frderico-O’Murchu, L. (2014, May 11). How 3-D printing will radically change the world. Retrieved June 28, 2015, from

Krassenstein, E. (2014, December 21). Why 3D printing needs to take off in schools around the world. Retrieved June 30, 2015, from

Leapfrog. (n.d.). 3D printing for education. Retrieved June 28, 2015, from

McCue, TJ. (2011, November 1). 3D printing will transform education. Retrieved June 28, 2015, from

PBSoffbook. (2013). Will 3D printing change the world? Retrieved June 30, 2015, from