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Teaching STEM with 3D printed bottle rockets

March 13, 2019


An effective way for students to learn about STEM is to make it interactive while encouraging failure as an opportunity to look at a problem from an alternative perspective. Freek van 
Iersel, a primary school teacher at De Singelier Elementary School, in the Netherlands, taught seventh graders all aspects of designing a PET bottle rocket; from stencil drawing to designing in TinkerCad to 3D printing the parts. This taught the seventh graders what it meanto begin and fully complete a project while they learned the science behind water pressure.

“For the kids, it is valuable to learn that while some ideas work out better than others, a failed attempt should be approached as an opportunity for improvement rather than mere failure.”

Students printing their bottle rocket designs

Students printed their bottle rocket designs on the Ultimaker Original

To make the learning process more relevant to today’s technology, Iersel incorporated 3D printing, giving students the opportunity to design and print the custom parts to complete their rockets. Designs were 3D modeled in TinkerCad, printed with Ultimaker, tested and refined. To not be discouraged by failure was the most important takeaway from this project and 3D printing allowed for testing different designs and the development of many useful skills along the way. 

“As the children go through multiple iterations to arrive at a working design, they learn about the nature of design and development; about identifying the flaws in preceding versions, learning from it and improving the rocket accordingly.”

Ultimaker has made tangible learning experiences in the classroom possible by offering a simple and reliable ecosystem. The rocket parts were printed on the Ultimaker original.

Today, the Ultimaker S5 includes new features such as software and hardware updates, larger build volume and dual extrusion to allow for even more customizable designs, ease of use and accessibility. Teachers are able to expand the tools that they use to teach without adding more work to their already busy day. Incorporate 3D printing in your science classroom by downloading the bottle rocket project lesson plan written by 3Dkanjers.

Students using Tinkercad in school
Students used Tinkercad to create their 3D designs from basic shapes.


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