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Why integrating 3D printing technology into K-12 education?


3D printing technology is an emergent learning technology that offers many educational benefits. Our current projects focus on integrating 3D printing in K-12 education as a means of introducing students to design, engineering practices, and Additive Manufacturing, as well as enhancing student creativity through problem-based learning. 

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For example, we developed a 3D Printing Technology Science curriculum that modeled a common science experiment in an elementary classroom on why things float or sink. Students designed 3D printed boats to explore how much weight could be supported by boat hulls of various volumes and designs. Our curriculum was field-tested with preservice elementary teachers. This learning experience helped them improve their design thinking, science teaching self-efficacy, and understanding of K-4 technological and engineering design science standards. 


You can download a Tinkercad Manual that will guide how to design a basic model of a boat in Tinkercad here.


We provide practical recommendations to assist teachers with designing, planning and implementing a 3D printing curriculum that emphasizes design-based learning. Currently, we investigate how preservice teachers from various educational majors integrate 3D printing into their teaching practices.

Related Publications: 

Novak, E., Brannon, M., Librea Carden, M. R., & Hass, A. L. (2021). A systematic review of empirical research on learning with 3D printing  technology. Journal of Computer-Assisted Learning, 1-24.

Novak, E., & Wisdom, S. (2020). Using 3D printing in science for elementary teachers. In J.J. Mintzes and E.M. Walter (Eds.), Active Learning in

College Science: The Case for Evidence-Based Practice. Berlin: Springer Nature.

Wisdom, S., & Novak, E. (2020). Using 3D printing to enhance STEM teaching and learning: Recommendations for designing 3D printing

projects. In Myint Swe Khine and Nagla Ali (Eds.), Integrating 3D printing into Teaching and Learning: Practitioners’ Perspective, 187-205. The Netherlands: Koninklijke Brill. 

Novak, E., & Wisdom, S. (2018). Effects of 3D printing project-based learning on preservice elementary teachers’ science attitudes, science

content knowledge, and anxiety about teaching science. Journal of Technology and Science Education, 27(5), 412-432.

What is the current status of research on learning with 3D printing technology?


We recently conducted a systematic literature review to examine how 3D printing technology was used to promote learning in various educational settings. We found that 3D printing learning was implemented with K-12 and post-secondary students, as well as professionals in a variety of fields, including STEM education, medical and pharmacy education, teacher education and professional preparation, vocational education, fashion design, entrepreneurship, social studies, and English language arts.

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