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Second graders at Parmalee Elementary learn the technology to create with a 3D printer

Second graders at Parmalee Elementary learn the technology to create with a 3D printer

Snowflakes and pinball machines have something to do with each other in Katie Offerman’s second grade class at Parmalee Elementary.

That’s because the students learned how to run a program to design snowflakes and print them on the classroom’s 3D printer while they designed, created and 3D printed their own pinball machines.

Before Thanksgiving, students learned to use a program called Tinkercad to design snowflakes with six dendrites and size parameters. After Offerman approved their designs, they printed out their creations.

This is the first step in a project where students will design simple pinball machines, create slides and pins, then print and assemble them so they can play pinball.

It all started when a student’s parents donated a wooden pinball machine to the classroom, which got Offerman thinking about how a pinball machine could be incorporated into the children’s lessons. In addition to learning about the history of pinball, she also decided to add a technology component.

“This is more authentic learning and something they might want to do in real life,” Offerman said of Pinball. “This project has evolved over the year.”

Offerman received a 3D printer, stand and filament through a grant from the Colorado Department of Education and plans to put them to good use to teach students about STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and math.

Second-grader Fitz Roberto called technology “my favorite thing in the world” and enjoyed the snowflake project. He said he has his own 3D printer and he helped his classmates with the computer-aided design program.

Second-grader Carter Bergin said he has played pinball before and is excited to create his own pinball game.

“That’s kind of cool,” he added.

Second grader Andecy Post said she really enjoyed creating a snowflake herself because she really liked snowflakes. She said the task wasn’t easy, but she enjoyed creating her own designs.

“This is really fun and I’m really excited to see how easy it is to play the pinball game,” Andecy said.

Andecy brought her Chromebook to Offerman, who reviewed her snowflake design work.

“You used every design aspect I asked for,” Offerman told her. “Good job.”