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Thoughts & News From The Polar 3D Team

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Now Taking Submissions For STEAMtrax PLUS

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Now Taking Submissions For STEAMtrax PLUS

A letter from our Director of Education, David Thornburg, PHD.

To all teachers enthusiastic about 3D printing,

Have you ever thought about a really cool lesson on a subject you teach that involves 3D printing? 

Polar 3D is building the STEAMtrax PLUS Teacher Idea Center — a place where you can put your amazing curriculum ideas and lesson plans to share with the world!  Your lessons will be indexed by subject area and grade level with a focus on STEAM topics - although submissions in other areas are more than welcome as well.  While our focus is on the K-12 world, we'd love to see college level projects too!

Our goal is to make creating great curriculum as simple as possible for you.  We have a template for you to use for your lesson, to bring consistency to the offering.  Here's how the process works:

 

  1. Download and use the template here to build your lesson.
  2. Send it to Dr. Thornburg, our Director of Education.
  3. We will choose a professional mentor to help you tweak and publish your lesson if needed.
  4. When approved, your lesson will be posted along with printable files for others to use and comment on in the new Polar Cloud 2.0.

 

 

 

There is no cost associated with any of these activities, and your materials will be released under a Creative Commons Copyright.  We'll be watching to see how folks resonate with your ideas, and look forward to promoting & rewarding those with the most engaging content!

If you have any questions, please send them to Dr. David Thornburg.  We can't wait to see what great ideas you come up with!

 

David Thornburg, PHD

Director of Education, Polar 3D

 

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Interview With Our 100k Printer!

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Interview With Our 100k Printer!

Last week, we were excited to announce that our Polar Cloud passed 100,000 prints! We found out who the lucky printer was, and after sending them a whopping 6 kilos of filament as a surprise thank you, we thought we'd get to know them a bit! So here's our interview with the 100,000th printer: Katie Donlin, a STEM Teacher at Byron Middle School, in Byron, MN. 


Katie, what do you and your students enjoy most about having the Polar 3D Printer? 

Having a 3D printer in our school has been awesome. At first, students are just excited to see it printing and curious about the process. But then, when they get to design and then watch their creations come to life, it really provides them an unforgettable learning experience. We started out with two Polar 3D Printers last year, being fortunate enough to have one funded through DonorsChoose. We decided to go with Polar 3D because of it’s affordability, customer support visibility, impressive cloud community, and unique design. The students love watching it print in class and then seeing time-lapses of the prints online. 

What are some of the coolest things you’ve printed? Any great 3D printing stories?

Our middle school students have designed some pretty impressive objects. We have printed student-designed phone cases, custom keychains, iPad stands, and incorporated in other class projects including a Science cell organelle model and Industrial Tech CO2 car printed. Many students have said that it feels almost therapeutic watching the Polar 3D printers printing. One 6th grade student feels so strongly about this that he decided to make them the center of his Genius Hour project - providing students the opportunity to watch time-lapse prints in their free time. A School 3D Print Cam. That was an unexpected learning opportunity created by having the Polar 3D printers in our classroom.

That is so great! We think it's pretty therapeutic watching the prints too. How do you integrate the printer into your classroom experience or teaching lessons?

So many students want the opportunity to use the 3D printers in class. So, this year, we decided to create a semester long elective class called 3D Design. This class is centered on designing and then printing. So far it has been a great experience for the 7th grade students in the course. The printers allow us to have a 3D Printed School Store, in which the students in class are able to design, print, and then operate the school store. This type of learning has empowered students and given them an entrepreneurial learning opportunity. The class will also spend time going through the various design challenges on the Polar 3D Cloud such as the Ornament and Home Fix It Challenges. 

Oh my gosh, we love seeing students get entrepreneurial with 3D Printing! So, why do you teach in STEM education? What inspires you to pursue STEM with your students?

Students in the 21st century have so many new challenges to face both now and in the future. One thing I like to tell my students is the statistic (according to New York Times) that 65% of the jobs they will have don’t even exist yet, and many of those will be in the STEM fields. I love teaching STEM because it allows students the opportunity to innovate, problem-solve, and think critically in a variety of ways. It’s important that students learn how to collaborate together to work through challenges. I enjoy seeing the creativity that each new class brings to various design challenges. Incorporating technology, like robotics and 3D printing only add to this level of empowerment in students. I strive to see that students feel true ownership in their work and authenticity in their projects. Another personal goal of mine is to inspire new female students to push past the stereotypes of technical fields. Having a 3D printer has helped a lot with this goal, because the students are able to print projects that excite them and fit with the other things that they are passionate about.

Wow, we couldn't agree more — collaboration, innovation, and problem-solving are the biggest things we hope students learn when using our products! Okay, last question, how does 3D Printing help your students learn STEM principles?

3D Printing allows students to work through the engineering design process in the most authentic sense possible. One of the steps of the design process is the creation phase. Students can literally take an idea they have brainstormed and then create and print the prototype. Printing also allows students to see the importance of planning and evaluating their designs. They can physically see what works, and what doesn’t - then go back and modify their designs.

Isn't Katie awesome?! We're so excited her and her students were the lucky 100,000th printer! We can't wait to see what her smart and entrepreneurial students create with all that filament! 

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Talawanda Schools Choose Polar 3D

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Talawanda Schools Choose Polar 3D

The Talawanda School District in Oxford, Ohio was recently awarded $3,500 from the Duke Energy Foundation for the purchase of six, Polar 3D printers for use in all five school buildings! Their commitment to pursuing STEM education throughout the district is awesome and we love knowing that Polar 3D printers will be many of these student's first experience with 3D Printing! We hope they're inspired and empowered by this great opportunity.

“Talawanda School District has committed to STEM Education in a variety of ways,” district STEM coordinator Ryan Barter said. “We believe students will learn by experiencing, not just listening. It is desired that students work collaboratively and gain those important soft skills that are vital to future success in any career path.”
He said the training is geared toward having students improve their skills in the areas of creativity, diligence, critical thinking, collaboration, communication and perseverance."

Talawanda High School is also partnering with Miami University in a social way as well...

"The high school has partnered with Miami University Hamilton in Project Civility, which encourages students to treat each other well. One way to do this is to reward acts of kindness by giving a student a specially-designed coin recognizing that act. Those coins are currently provided as part of the partnership, but that may change thanks to the new 3-D printers.
“We will make our own coins,” Holli Morrish, the district’s director of communication and public relations, said, adding high school students are planning the project. “The Youth Initiative Team has taken leadership. Students will have an art contest to design our coins. The focus on STEM is very modern and we can use it for Project Civility and tie it to district initiatives.”

Plus, the district is building two MakerSpaces for the students as well!

“The school district will supply a dedicated classroom space at the middle school and the high school for these MakerSpaces,” Barter said. “We will also provide computers with appropriate software, like Tinkercad or AutoCAD, and many supplies for students and teachers to be creative.”

It's so exciting to see a school district going in so wholeheartedly into STEM education and 3D Printing at all levels of education! To read more, check out the full article here. Congratulations Talawanda, we can't wait to see what you create!

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Apple Wants Everyone To Code

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Apple Wants Everyone To Code

At Apple's iPhone 7 Keynote Event earlier this week, CEO Tim Cook spent a sizable amount of time promoting Apple's commitment to education. Amidst the shiny new phones and watches, Apple dropped a number of new educational gems that you should know about as an educator.

ConnectED

First, Apple has made a large financial contribution to the ConnectED initiative, of over 100 million dollars in resources to teachers and students.  Those resources entail donating an iPad to every student, a Mac and iPad to every teacher, and an Apple TV to every classroom in 114 underserved schools that are apart of the program. The amount of sheer technology is impressive alone, but we think what's truly interesting is their approach to integrating iPads into the student's workflow. The generation of current students are not only digital natives, but largely Apple natives —with a bias towards iOS (thanks to the iPhone), but even more preferential to touch app interfaces. This is an important trend to recognize, as the current learners and future professionals will identify "computer" as a very different thing than previous generations identify it. To the newest digital natives, a computer is not a box you sit in front of, but rather a just a device of varying size that roughly looks like a screen. We should be as willing to adapt as they are — whether we call it a phone or tablet — to them it's the same means to an end: knowledge and connection. Not only is Apple aware of this foundational shift, but have created a way to stay ahead of the curve with their Apple Teacher Program. There you can sign up, receive the latest news, and receive Apple Teacher Certification after a series of quizzes. 

"Everyone Can Code" Initiative

Apple believes everyone can code and wants to teach their recently developed language, Swift, to children everywhere. In support of their "Everyone Can Code" initiative, they've provided a wealth of tools for educators to do just that. You can currently download "Teacher Guide" previews of Swift Playgrounds and App Development with Swift. And before you doubt a students' ability to go from no-code to app in a year, check out Apple's Student Design Award winners for 2016: the challenging puzzle app Linum, and the addictive force-touch game Divdr. Both were coded entirely by students in Swift, implementing brand new iPhone features, and netting the students some decent money via in-app purchases as well. On top of that, the youngest developer at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference this year was 9 years old! Her name is Anvitha Vijay, and this Australian app developer is apparently pretty excited about Apple's other teaching development — Swift Playgrounds.

Swift Playgrounds

Swift Playgrounds really represents something truly innovative in code education: an interactive and engaging app that teaches students code from absolute zero. Debuting in the fall, the app is free and exclusively for iPad. It focuses on understanding the fundamental building blocks of coding before surmounting other challenges. It's entirely student-led learning, chock full of our favorite word: experimentation. To top it off, anything a student creates in Swift Playgrounds can be directly transferred to Xcode (the app development tool the pros use) and built on from there. After that, Apple has provided a wealth of developer resources to learn Swift in its full breadth. We're excited to see all the great app experiments that will spring forth from classrooms this school year. 

 

For more information on these topics, head to Apple's Education hub. We're so excited by these developments and are even more re-assured in our pursuance of the idea that technology can empower students to learn and think like the entrepreneurs of the future that we need. That's why we've built-in iPad friendly features to the Polar Printer and Polar Cloud — allowing .STL upload from any storage app on iOS, as well as a mobile-friendly design that works from any browser, and printer sharing so students can manage printing in the classroom themselves. Like Apple, we have many more developments coming later this year and we can't wait to show you!

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Google's top education expert predicts what schools will look like in 50 years

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Google's top education expert predicts what schools will look like in 50 years

Google's Lighthouse Dome Classroom - Credit: Google For Education Roadshow

Google's Lighthouse Dome Classroom - Credit: Google For Education Roadshow

We love this article by Business Insider that talks with Jonathan Rochelle, head of product management for Google Apps for Education. It affirms the same feelings we have here at Polar 3D, the next 50 years of education are going to be exciting, cutting-edge and collaborative. Some quotes we particularly like —

“…schools are poised to become highly collaborative spaces, thanks to the advent of virtual and augmented reality. Instead of needing to meet in the same physical space, kids could work on long-term projects remotely and interact through online platforms.”

This mindset is exactly why we’ve worked hard on the Polar Cloud, building collaboration into its core - allowing teachers and students to share & manage their 3D objects and 3D printers together. The same can be said for our STEAMtrax curriculum, which directly encourages 3D printing & collaboration to solve STEAM based problems as a team. 

“But Rochelle knows technology can't transform education on its own — it takes a smart application of cutting-edge products to help kids learn. As the world gets more technologically advanced, it's partly up to teachers to make sure kids feel comfortable using the latest products effectively.”

We also couldn’t agree more with this, and that’s why we are fully committed to training & promoting the teachers of the future to better use our products like STEAMtrax and Polar3D Printers through our professional development  & support offerings. Even direct features, such as Google Classroom Integration and Chromebook + Mobile compatibility, make using the Polar Cloud with lesson plans easy and comfortable — while still being on the cutting edge of technology. With a future as exciting as this, we can't wait to get back to school!

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