Additive Manufacturing, also known as 3D printing is taking the world by storm and Sparrow Schools is joining the revolution. With just a click of a button, you can turn a digital file into an actual physical 3D part object. Many manufacturing industries have also joined the wave. According to a Wohlers Report 2014, the 3D printing industry is expected to grow and exceed the $21B mark in worldwide revenue by 2020.
After being approached by two University of Cape Town students who started a programme called 3D for Schools, the Sparrow Foundation School is looking to integrate 3D printing into the school’s maths, science and technology curriculum. For instance in the mathematics subject, while learners are taught about shapes, through 3D printing, they will be able to physically develop the shapes, giving them a better grasp of volume, height and width.
Furthermore, 3D printing will take its remedial intervention plans to a whole new level, particularly for autistic learners. It has been found that autistic children learn differently from their peers. They have difficulty visualising concepts and relating to stories or pictures on a page.
The Foundation Schools’ autistic learners were tasked with designing floor plans for their dream houses. They failed when they drew on paper but thanks to 3D printing, they successfully completed the floor plans in 2 days after using Sketchup (3D modelling computer programme). People with autism are visually gifted, they think in pictures. In this sense, 3D printing is one of the tools that can help them express their ideas and creativity.
The 3D printing programme also aims to inspire and trigger thoughts in young minds. It seeks to keep them up-to-date with the third industrial revolution, driven by additive manufacturing (3D printing). The programme will also instill the spirit of entrepreneurship in learners from an early age considering that the industry is going mainstream. “We are already starting to see businesses, both large and small, take advantage of 3D printers to create customized designs or follow blueprints. The real appeal lies in speedy prototyping and increased accessibility,” says Chris Elsworthy, CEO of CEL, the makers of the Robox 3D printer.