Print­ing the fu­ture

Weatherly Area teacher brings new tech­nol­ogy to class­room

The Hazleton Standard-Speaker - - FRONT PAGE - By JILL WHALEN Staff Writer

A new three-di­men­sional printer at the Weatherly Area High School stands just over a foot tall, but stu­dents are find­ing its pos­si­bil­i­ties im­mea­sur­able.

The printer was de­liv­ered to the class­room of gifted pro­gram teacher Katie Leach ear­lier this month.

“I wanted the stu­dents to see the ex­cite­ment of sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy and re­al­ize what they can learn,” Leach said.

While the school printer uses plas­tic fil­a­ment, Leach noted that sci­en­tists are us­ing 3-D print­ers for all types of projects. For ex­am­ple, stem cell re­search- ers are ey­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of cre­at­ing or­gans from spe­cial 3-D print­ers. And in re­cent years, NASA sci­en­tists trans­mit­ted a de­sign file to a 3-D printer on the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion, where as­tro­nauts used it to print a ratchet wrench.

“The main thing is they can see the pos­si­bil­i­ties of the fu­ture with this,” Leach said.

Twelfth-grade stu­dents John Hin­kle and Avery Vizen­tine set up the printer, which was pur­chased with a $1,000 grant from PPL Corp. and WVIA and a $500

do­na­tion from the Weatherly Alumni As­so­ci­a­tion.

Stu­dents con­nected the de­vice to a com­puter pro­gram that con­tains files to cre­ate just about any­thing. On a re­cent morn­ing, stu­dents chose an owl, which Hin­kle re-sized and started the print process.

“It takes a lit­tle while for it to heat up,” he said, not­ing that the plas­tic fil­a­ment is heated to 419 de­grees. Once it reached that tem­per­a­ture, the printer be­gan spew­ing thin threads of plas­tic un­til layer by layer the owl be­gan to take shape.

It was fin­ished within 20 min­utes.

Stu­dents also made an ele­phant, a dog, a Ne­braska Corn­huskers logo for new prin­ci­pal Tony DeSpir­ito and a work­ing whis­tle for ath­letic di­rec­tor Scott Zoscin.

“(Zoscin) brought the whis­tle to prac­tice, and every­one was wowed by it,” ex­plained ju­nior Katie Ache.

Ju­nior Adam Fag­ner was im­pressed by a unique pen- cil holder.

“When I saw the pen­cil holder, I thought that there are so many things to do with it,” he said. “It’s in­cred­i­bly use­ful.”

Vizen­tine is in­ter­ested in mak­ing a sphere-shaped lamp. Fag­ner is hop­ing for the Eif­fel Tower.

“The stu­dents can make so many things,” Leach said.

They’ll also be able to cre­ate their own de­signs and have asked teach­ers whether they want any­thing printed.

Al­ready, teach­ers said they’d like to see a model of a mol­e­cule, as well as maps and his­tor­i­cal fig­ures.

“If you could de­sign it, you could make it,” Hin­kle said.

Plans are to demon­strate the printer to ev­ery dis­trict class. Leach’s stu­dents hope to print a char­ac­ter from the Dis­ney movie, “Frozen,” to show to el­e­men­tary stu­dents.

“We will ex­pe­ri­ence as a school how much fun tech­nol­ogy is,” Leach said.

A pen­cil holder made with a 3-D printer by stu­dents at Weatherly Area High School.

ELLEN F. O’CON­NELL/Staff Pho­tog­ra­pher

Katie Leach, stand­ing, an on­line and gifted teacher at Weatherly Area High School, ex­plains a Mak­erBot Repli­ca­tor Mini Com­pact 3D Printer the school re­cently ac­quired Thurs­day to her on­line class.

Stu­dents watch as the printer cre­ates an owl. Clock­wise from lower left: Katie Ache, Sa­man­tha Kane, Zachary Hu­dock, Gabriella Her­nan­dez and Adam Fag­ner.

John Hin­kle holds an owl cre­ated on the 3-D printer.

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