At the very beginning of the year, a student raced into the library to tell me about his goal to design and 3D print his own Skylanders figures. He knew what he wanted to do, but I worried about how his enthusiasm might be lost in the demands of the curriculum standards. His story led me to my goal this year of “empowering student voice”.
I spent time showing him Tinkercad and he did design his own figure and 3D print it.
When you take time to honor an individual student voice like this, you sometimes wonder if the time with one student in a school of 600 is worth it, but it is! Recently, this same student decided that he wanted 3D printing to be part of a book project he was working on. His class just finished reading The Westing Game and each group of students is working on a book float to highlight things that they learned about the book. His group immediately emailed me to see if they could use the 3D printer to design a chess piece for the float.
They worked independently of me and the knowledge of using Tinkercad was passed on to all 4 members of the group. They even branched off and made their own designs and chose their favorite from the group designs. They were bubbling with excitement to get their design printed. Since it had lots of hanging edges, it required supports. Supports take a long time to remove, but the group took turns coming in and working on removing the supports with my help.
Now this one student voice has empowered 3 more, and my hope is that those 4 voices will continue to empower even more.