Across the U.S., schools are incorporating 3D printing into the curriculum, but some are taking it a step further by adding global collaboration to the mix.
At PS 163 in New York City this fall, students in 3rd-5th grade were paired one-on-one with students in Yancheng, China to learn CAD and 3D printing as part of Global Inventors – a STEAM (STEM + arts) course offered by Level Up Village (LUV). In addition to following the same curriculum, students exchanged video messages each class period with their Chinese partners to collaborate on projects and gain insights into each other’s daily lives, common interests and cultural differences.
“Students had the opportunity to develop a relationship with a student with a different upbringing than their own and to see how quickly their designs could move from just ideas to physical objects that they could hold, inspect, and evaluate,” said Patrick Delorey, LUV teacher for Global Inventors at PS 163, the first NYC public school to offer Level Up Village courses.
In the course, the students first learned about electricity and solar power, and then worked with their partners to design and 3D print a number of projects, including a solar-powered light source.
“I enjoyed designing objects that were going to be printed and actually be tangible, and I also enjoyed inventing things that would solve problems,” said Aden G., a fifth grader at PS 163.
The students also enjoyed getting to know each other and discovering what they had in common with their Chinese partners, who lived more than 7,000 miles away.
“It was really fun because we got to share ideas. We both like airplanes and we like building,” said Aden. “Our differences were that his country had many factories unlike mine and also his country uses 3D printing to build houses, except they use cement instead of plastic.”
The students on the other end of the collaboration attend school at Ivy Maker, a tech-forward school in Yancheng, China. Founded by Ivy League international graduates in China, Ivy Maker is focused on bringing meaningful innovation into the Chinese educational system.
“They need to know new technologies early to keep up with their U.S. peers,” said Ying Zhang, president of Ivy Maker. “It’s good for innovative thinking, training and international collaboration skills, as well as for the older kids’ understanding of college majors and their future job search. Working with Level Up Village also added international collaboration into our curriculum.”
The students in China were enthusiastic about the experience.
“Before attending Global Inventors, I never heard about 3D printing, so the course was amazing to me,” said Wenyan Dal, a student at Ivy Maker. “At the same time, both my partner and I have many hobbies so we have many topics to talk about.”
Video Game Design with Students from Ghana
In addition to offering two sections of Global Inventors, PS 163 also ran Global Video Game Designers in partnership with kids at Exponential Education in Ghana. In the course, the students used Scratch to build video games, while incorporating information their global partner shared about their interests and daily life.
“These courses opened their eyes to the different ways people live around the world. The students all developed a relationship with their global partners and always looked forward to hearing from them the next week. STEAM skills were encouraged by giving the students the tools they needed to utilize their critical thinking and creativity – through individual work and collaboration.” – Emily Brennan, after school coordinator, PS 163
“Watching the kids take what they were taught and completely customize it was pretty fantastic,” said Emily Brennan, after school coordinator at PS 163 and teacher of Global Video Game Designers . “For instance, a student took what he learned from creating his Global Partner game and then created an interactive, Doctor Who game.”
Brennan explained that the Level Up Village courses also bolstered global citizenship skills by connecting students with peers in China, Ghana and Mauritania.
“These courses opened their eyes to the different ways people live around the world. The students all developed a relationship with their global partners and always looked forward to hearing from them the next week,” said Brennan. “STEAM skills were encouraged by giving the students the tools they needed to utilize their critical thinking and creativity – through individual work and collaboration.”