3D printing in schools has only recently become a reality. While there are many schools around the world that have already had the opportunity to bring 3D printers into their classrooms, the majority of schools are not quite there yet. The reasons are quite simple. There are a lack of funds, a lack of knowledge, and in most cases, not enough motivation from students, teachers and faculty.
However, this isn’t entirely the case for one school, located in the mountains of Northern California. Portola High, a small school with 17 teachers and 237 students, has more than enough motivation, but is lacking the required funds.
Fortunately for Portola High, they have one teacher, Bran Freschi that is bent and determined to find a way to get a 3D printer for his school. Freschi, who was hired last year as a Learning Specialist, to work with students with learning disabilities, came up with the idea to pursue 3D printing at his school this past fall.
After attending a STEM conference in Sacramento in the Fall of 2013, myself and a few teachers got to see and touch a real 3D printer,” Freschi told 3DPrint.com. “I instantly fell in love with it.”
That 3D printer was a MakerBot Replicator, and the MakerBot saleman at the conference gave Freschi a 3D printed nut and bolt that had been printed right in front of him. According to Freschi, that’s what sealed the deal.
“Since that day, I have showed that little toy to hundreds of people, and their reaction is always the same: Their face gets scrunched up and they say ‘Wait…what?’,” explained Freschi. “Then I get to explain to them how a 3D printer works; like a big hot glue gun with a weed eater line in the back of it, materializing objects in all three dimensions”
We asked Mr. Freschi, how this 3D printer would get used in his school, and he was more than prepared to answer. We could tell that he has huge plans on integrating the MakerBot Replicator into his classes, as well as the classes of other teachers. He informed us that he has one ‘career tech’ teacher and one math teacher on board. The career tech teacher would offer a 3D printing and Sketchup class, while the math teacher plans to create some mathematical lessons around the printer.
Freschi plans to utilize the 3D printer in his classes by designing and printing items that can be sold, in order to give his students life skills centered on work ethic, communication, and financial topics. He also sees uses for the printer in other areas of the school, including art, science, and technology. He hopes that art students can print out art work, as well as useful tools.
“I have a grand plan of implementing a recycling program at our school that would utilize a grinder and an extruder to make our own ‘recycled’ 3D printer filament,” Freschi told us.
Finding funding for the printer has been the largest hurdle. Freschi has approached the school board indirectly, about getting funding, but was unfortunately shot down. However, one of the school’s administrators really believed in the idea, and encouraged Freschi to continue to look for funding sources. Finding funding through the PTA or Boosters was not an option in Freschi’s mind, as he didn’t feel that they had money to spend on a device that none of them probably understood. So, he came up with the idea of funding the printer via Kickstarter.
“I thought of Kickstarter pretty early on, and lots of kids showed interest in the process,” explained Freschi. “I started building the campaign way back in October. After the campaign was finished, literally ten minutes before we hit the launch button, the district office put the brakes on it, telling me that they needed to be the recipients of the funds, and not me personally. Long story short, I eventually got around this district policy by soliciting the assistance of the Booster Club. They agreed to take the money from the Kickstarter campaign, buy the printer and then donate it to the school.”
The Kickstarter campaign launched just a little over 2 days ago, and it has already raised over $1,000. Freschi informed us that it has been received very well by the entire community, and all of the schools in the district are “buzzing about it”.
Backers of the campaign will be awarded with one of several items, including decals, t-shirts, customized 3D printed phone cases, other 3D printed items and more.
Help Mr. Freschi, and his school raise funds for this project by donating as little as $1 to the cause, via their Kickstarter campaign page, or by sharing this story. Discuss this project, and let us know if you have donated to the cause in the ‘Portola High Kickstarter Campaign’ thread on 3DPB.com.