“When you produce something yourself instead of purchasing it, that changes your relationship to it,” says Chelsea Schelly, assistant professor of social sciences. She’s discussing the current popular trend of 3D printing. “You are empowered by it.”
That principle might sound simple, but its ramifications can be wide ranging, especially for middle and high school educators. That’s where Schelly’s research began: studying a teacher workshop coordinated by 3D printing guru Joshua Pearce, an associate professor of materials science and engineering and electrical and computer engineering.
During the workshop, one of the local high school teachers produced a valuable part and a teachable moment at the same time.
“He needed a snowblower part that would normally cost $200,” Schelly says. “Instead, he made it himself and saved the money.” And he saved the hassle of bringing the machine to the shop to get it fixed.”
And his students in the snow-laden school district clearly got the relevance of that example.