3D printing expo held for educators

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WATERVILLE, Maine (WABI) - Thomas College sponsored and hosted a 3D printing expo. Maine teachers, technical directors, and students were there.

"The 3D printing expo is really our way of helping teachers think critically about 'how can we advance student learning through the technology of 3D printing,'" explained Assistant Professor of Education Kate Cook.

3D printers are becoming more common in Maine schools, thanks in part to donations from the Perloff Family Foundation.

"We now have 300 printers in Maine that we've provided,” said David Perloff. “There are probably another hundred or 150 that have been bought by schools. I would say that we have more 3D printing going on in Maine schools than is typical of Silicon Valley Schools."

Schools gave presentations on their experiences with the printers and also offered up a few examples of the things they've made.

"We've actually have had students create lost, missing game pieces to games,” said Mathew Brown from East End Community School. “You know, Othello or Connect 4, you always lose those little pieces. Just fun, different projects but real world problems."

Educators say teaching children about the technology at an early age helps them learn about engineering and problem solving.

"You realize you can print anything,” said Karen Fream from East End Community School. “So you can fix something or you can also create something, and I think it's really caught on with teachers that you've got a tool in your classroom that you can build anything or create anything and then it's gotten students really involved in that as well."

Perloff said "there aren't too many things in school where kids can be totally in control and then share their results with others."