Research and analysis

3D printers in schools: uses in the curriculum

This report outlines what was learnt from the pilot project looking at the potential of 3D printing in 21 schools.

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In 2012 to 2013 the Department for Education looked to explore new and innovative ways of teaching science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and design subjects that realise the full potential of 3D printers in the classroom.

21 schools participated in the pilot project to explore the potential benefits of using the device in STEM teaching. Some of the key findings from the project, included in the report are:

  • early work with the printer was often a necessary trial and error process
  • the schools all relied on strong levels of in-house technical support
  • teachers emphasised the need for non-contact time as a crucial factor – it took some a few months for inexperienced teachers to become familiar enough with the printer and associated software to use it successfully and confidently in teaching
  • the printers had a highly motivational effect on pupils and most schools reported a greater interest in STEM subjects