WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Under the electronic whir of an extruder students listen to instruction fromTechnology Enrichment Teacher Bill Kanzinger, "There has to be a purpose behind it - there has to be a reason, it has to be beneficial in some way."
When it comes to cutting edge education, the technology found in this modern classroom is second to none.
But this isn't a Palo Alto think tank, or even a college laboratory. It's a middle school classroom at Cape Fear Academy in Wilmington.
"When some of these kids graduate, they are going to be working with technology that hasn't been invented yet," says Kanzinger. "They are going to be working in jobs that haven't been created yet - so what can we do today to prepare them for that?"
It's a question that has been answered with curriculum designed around 3D printing. "I think it's cool, to be able to make whatever you want in 3d," explains 7th grader Jacob Lee.
If you haven't heard of 3D printing yet, you will.
"Layer by layer it squirts the plastic out and when it hits the air it cools and becomes hardened," says Kanzinger, "and eventually …. you'll get an entire print job when you are done."
Ten years ago technology like this was science fiction. But Kanzinger is quick to get the novelty to wear off, and get students to start creating and producing viable projects. Early in the school year the students are making guitar picks and medallions to hone design skills. But that's just a beginning.
"If something breaks down you could just print a part at your home," says 7th grader Reed Sewyer. "With the 3d printing, you can really expand your imagination by making parts, and you can actually have them in the real world, instead of just a 2d drawing you can actually play with them and interact with them."
In fact in the class - they have already created replacement parts for the printer itself - a practical application to challenge not only the design aspects of this technology - but also giving insight to how a new generation will harness the power of production.
"When you order from Amazon rather than waiting three days for your purchase to come in, they will just send you the plans, says Kranzinger. "You download those plans, load them up into the printer and you'd print it out.To actually physically print it out, touch it hold it feel it, give it to somebody else - there is a level of excitement that you just… until you see it in real life you cant be prepared for it."
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