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We all know what class handouts are.  Have you ever handed out a full-size Venus of Willendorf in your Art History courses?  How about invited your Economics students to break the coins off an early Chinese coin tree (at left)?  Or, in your Literature course, have you asked your students to design the Corral de comedias or the  Globe Theater and then to present their model in class?  How many times have you wanted to teach the decimal system to your young students by using a Japanese abacus or teach the hexadecimal system to you older students using a Chinese abacus (skills which can improve mental calculations) – but just didn’t have enough to give one to each student?  Ever needed a spare violin for your orchestra, an outfit for the Cadet Bal (or for spring break), or some critical piece for a science lab or demonstration?  All these are possible to create on-site and when needed, and most are within reach (and price range) of schools.
To do this, many schools and universities are turning to new low-cost 3D printers which have recently become so inexpensive that some are suggesting that each classroom will eventually have oneForbes has recently published an article on how 3D Printing will transform education which describes current class projects and how lesson plans have been published to use 3D printers as a way to foster STEM in education.  And, the Atlantic Council is even thinking that these printers could change the nature of manufacturing globally.  Seeing as next year’s academic budget cycle is coming up soon, be thinking of ways to enhance student learning through physically interacting with an object or by leading them through the design, build, test, rethink, redesign, rebuild and retest cycle.

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