As 9-year-old Emilio Wehner eyeballs the inch-tall three-dimensional replica of Pikes Peak being created in his computer science classroom, he thinks of the majestic mountain he can see from the playground at GLOBE Charter School.
“I’ve never been to Pikes Peak, but I know it’s super tall,” the fourth-grader said Tuesday.
“It’s really cool we’re making it on a 3D printer. I’ve never seen a 3D printer work before.”
Two new 3D printers are making technology lessons “way funner,” Emilio said. “It’s more advanced than just looking at a projector or working on a typing website.”
A $5,000 grant from the Lowe’s home improvement store at Citadel Crossing is enabling the small elementary school that opened in 1995 to leapfrog into the 21st century.
The machines are helping the school introduce a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) track for all 154 students in kindergarten through sixth grade.
The hope is that standardized math scores, already on an upward trajectory, will continue to rise, and students will begin to consider at a young age what they really want to be when they grow up, Principal Heidi Breakey said.
“We’re spending $50,000 to $75,000 on technology this year,” she said. “We want to start students at the elementary level thinking about their life plan and know that technology plays an important role, no matter what they decide.”
The grant paid for the two 3D printers; a box of filaments, the colored fibers that build the images; flip cameras so students can record their work and post it on YouTube; headphones; and the software program used to build 3D objects.
GLOBE is the only school to receive such a grant from the Citadel Crossing store this year, Manager Josh Jenssen said.
Schools that are awarded grants get to decide how they want to spend the money, based on their needs, he said.
With more coding and robotics programs and a soon-to-be rewired internet system, GLOBE students will receive not only the basics, but also more advanced computer science concepts, school leaders say.
“I love to encourage students to think of why we’re doing this,” said Barbara Reed, a computer science and music teacher.
Fourth-graders are studying Colorado land forms, and the curriculum goes hand-in-hand with making the small 3D image of Pikes Peak, she said. The well-known mountain is the largest example of a land form in Colorado Springs, Reed said.
In designing the Pikes Peak model, students are learning about the mountain’s history and geographical features, math’s spatial awareness and the all-encompassing critical-thinking skills, Reed said.
Sixth-graders are replicating animal cells. Kindergartners, working on how shadows are created, made a tiny Washington Monument they took outside to study in the sunlight. And second-graders are making 3D bugs on the printer and will fashion habitats for them in art class.
“It’s so cool,” Breakey said. “The kids are so excited about this.”
A 3D printer is like an advanced glue gun that heats unrolling filament to 220 degrees Fahrenheit and melts the material. The object is created through the software program, which slices an image into layers and sends it to the printer. The Pikes Peak model took 18 minutes for the printer to complete.
Fourth-grader Melayna Hooper Randa said she can’t wait to make a toy. She already knows what she’ll create — “a tiny, little Captain America.”
“I love the 3D printer,” she said. “We get to do a free one of anything we want, and that’s what I want. Captain America is a super soldier, and I want to be a soldier when I grow up. Or a detective.”
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