Monday, March 21, 2016

Printing In The 3rd Dimension

My son is very much into the Jurassic Park movie series. I have seen all of them previously, but the experience of watching them again with my son is amazing. Watching them again all these years later has allowed me to notice some things that I had not previously paid attention to. Specifically, I was thrilled, while watching the third installment in the series, to see the archaeologists using a "Rapid Prototyping Machine" to produce a working 3D model of a velociraptor resonating chamber. The reason for my excitement? This was a real-world use of 3D printing technology.
The 3D printing technology in this film from 2001 has grown and expanded quite rapidly in recent years. The manufacturing industry routinely uses this technology to create samples and models; the medical industry is using "Bio Ink" to print human skin, ears, and kidneys, as well as more affordable prosthetic limbs; sugars and other food substances are being utilized to print intricate candies, cakes, and piping designs impossible to create by hand; for better or worse, the technology is being used to print working firearms; desktop 3D printers are becoming increasingly affordable, allowing for schools and tinkerers to have easy access to the technology. The future of 3D printing technology is wide open and we should see some amazing uses going forward.

For those that don't know, FASD is blessed to have THREE of these 3D printers available for use! If you would like to learn more about how you might utilize 3D printing in your classroom, let's talk! The actual printing process is as simple as me bringing the printer to your classroom, downloading your designs, and getting the process started!


Friday, March 11, 2016

Dare To Innovate

I recently had the privilege of attending the Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo & Conference (PETE&C) in Hershey, PA. I have been extremely blessed to have attended this conference three years running. Each year, I return from this event with a renewed passion for teaching and with exciting new ideas to implement in the classroom. If you've never had the opportunity, or if you've passed on the opportunity, to attend this conference, I would encourage all of my colleagues in FASD to seek the opportunity to attend and prepare to be changed - there is truly something for everyone.

In addition to the renewal and ideas I received from this year's conference, I was challenged in ways I did not foresee. The Day 2 Keynote was delivered by an innovator in education that I've followed on Twitter for some time: George Couros. I've been a huge fan of his fresh approach to educational issues and of his embrace of technology in education. I walked away from his keynote inspired in ways I haven't experienced in quite a long time. His topic? The innovator's mindset.

  • What does it mean to innovate?
  • What is "success"?
  • What are we doing to inspire the innovator's mindset in our students?
  • Why is a pencil considered "crucial" for education while technology is viewed as a reward? 
  • Would I want to spend a whole day learning in my classroom?

These are just a handful of questions I've been pondering since this speech. Innovation is never easy - in fact, I'd say it's pretty scary. To break from the routine - the norm - to try something fresh and different that many of your peers may not understand and/or support is an intimidating prospect. But at it's very core, innovation is the disruption of routine! Embracing technology in our classrooms may very well be the spark that ignites a revolution of innovation in our classrooms that disrupts our routine! Might it be uncomfortable in the short term? Definitely! Might technology change how we do what we do? Absolutely! Might technology bring the world to our students and inspire them in ways we've never seen? You better believe it!

I'm not here to suggest that technology is always the answer, but technology in the hands of an excellent teacher is an amazing tool! FASD has no shortage of excellent teachers. How are our excellent teachers leveraging the power of technology in the classroom? Maybe you are one of these excellent teachers who just doesn't quite know where to begin with technology in the classroom - it makes you uncomfortable or it is too big of a disruption to the routine - and that's ok. I'm here to encourage and assist with the implementation of new and exciting tools and strategies in our classrooms. Let's get together to brainstorm, to plan, to teach, and to leverage the power available to us! Let's spark the revolution! Let's be the change!

Dare to innovate,

Justin