Printing the future
Weatherly Area teacher brings new technology to classroom
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.
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.