After weeks of planning and organising, Thursday was a very special day for us. We met up with a class of 12 year old girls from a London girls school and spent the morning with them working on 3D printing projects. Who says girls don't like tech? You should have seen their eyes light up when they realised that they would be making their very own designs, printing them, and then taking them home as a necklace or keychain. Ultimaker GB very kindly lent us four Ultimaker2 printer for the day, and one of the parents from the school had arranged for us to have space at the Science Museum for a day of tech and science.
First we talked a bit about what 3D Printing was, and why it was exciting. Some of the girls already seemed familiar with 3D printing and its potential. We talked about prosthetics, surgery planning, spare parts in space… and beautiful objects. Then we rolled up our sleeves with TinkerCAD and got designing. The great thing about TinkerCAD is that it's both simple and sophisticated. Everyone learned how to navigate, and the keys to 3D printing – using workplanes, moving the camera to check your design from every angle, making sure that all of your pieces are thoroughly connected. We gave the girls a set of constraints, and off they went. Each girl could design a small charm.
Then began the printing. We'd built in plenty of time for reprints, because there is still a relatively high likelihood that your print goes slightly skewy. Or that, despite checking the design, some parts are hanging off a bit once the design is scaled. We had red and white filaments and the printers were working well. The girls had other activities to do, but each time they came back into the room where we were running our pop-up print lab, they all came rushing over to see how the charms were coming along.
We were certainly delighted with how the programme went, and I think the girls were pretty happy with their output! In half a day they had learned about the potential of an exciting new technology, had hands-on experience with 3D design, been through the highs and lows of making the prints, and by lunchtime were wearing their own original designs.