The answer to this question seemed evident until my 10-year-old son showed me otherwise. For the past 25 years, I have provided technology solutions to schools. We were considering adding 3D printers to our product line. However, 3D printing was very new, and many of our school partners who purchased 3D printers shared that the systems were sitting, collecting dust. This feedback made us very hesitant in adding this technology to our portfolio.
As a self-proclaimed “tinker,” I had decided to purchase a DIY 3D printer that you had to build. I wanted to learn about this technology. One night (after many evenings of tinkering), I was in my home office, and my 10-Year-old son poked his head in the door to say good night. My son asked “how were things coming with the 3D printer?” I replied that I was getting ready to print my first test cube. My son came in and watched me calibrate the printer’s home position. I figured he would be bored in a couple of minutes and head off to bed, when to my surprise, he asks, “Does that work with the X and Y-Axis?” This question caught me by surprise. My son is an average B-C student. He does very well in subjects that interest him, and he does the minimum in those that do not. So, this question was not typical.
I answered by saying, “yes, it does. It uses an X, Y, and Z-axis. Z is the vertical or up and down Axis.” His response was, “Hmm,” we learned about the X and Y-Axis last year, and I remember thinking, when am I ever going to need to know this stuff.” We then spent 30 minutes discussing all the different operating products using the X and Y-Axis. This interaction got me thinking. How many other average students would be engaged in the X and Y axis lesson if a 3D printer engaged them?
The 3D printing part just connected the dots for my son.
I then realized the definition of an engaged student.