Goal / Objective - Students doodling in class? Isn’t that what they do when they are bored, distracted, not actively learning? Not in this case.
With support from the Student Excellence Foundation, Krista Lipinsky’s Washingston Elementary 4th graders are “doodling” in class to better learn and physically see math and geometry concepts. They are using 3D pens, made by a company called 3Doodler, which allow students to actually draw using moldable plastic. The pen provides just enough heat to make the plastic soft; it flows from the pen, much like ink might; it then hardens almost immediately so the student can “draw” a shape in three dimensions. The students can then hold that drawing, seeing and touching the lines, angles, and vertices that make up a cube, triangle, or nonagon (that’s the nine-sided one).
The objective is to use this amazing new technology to improve student understanding of important math concepts, and ultimately to inspire interest in STEM fields broadly.
Impact - Over the 2015-2016 school year twenty-four children were able make use of the pens, but the plan moving forward is that every student in 4th grade will get to 3D doodle!
Using the 3Doodler 3D pens have allowed students the benefit of a truly hands-on experience, and with shapes that they themselves have created. They have learned, by holding and seeing, acute angles, obtuse angles, and symmetry. In addition to greater mastery of geometry vocabulary and concepts, students are actively excited about using the 3D pens as they learn (many having even asked for 3D pens as Christmas and birthday presents).
One surprising benefit from the 3D doodling project has been that in troubleshooting the pens (every now and then the plastic would harden too soon and the pen might jam) students gained an authentic, STEM-based problem solving experience. As Mrs. Lipinsky reports: “I loved this part and was so thrilled that they got a chance to TINKER and PLAY to get things working! This is truly how STEM should work! BEST AUTHENTIC learning experience for my friends! They discussed what was wrong and problem solved together as a team to get them back and running asap!”