3D Printing in Elementary School

 In 30 days of education

Building a strong foundation in math and science early is vitally important to student success later on. That’s why we’re focusing on developing a wide range of research-based kits to enhance the STEM education of our youngest students. We’ve spent time developing and testing kits that work in multiple grades so save printing time and slowly build on topics to fully develop comprehensive understanding. Check out a few areas we’ve covered with our primary kits below:

Geometry

We’re about to release a text-book replacement curriculum to supplement our collection of K-5 Geometry kits. Here’s an excerpt about how they were developed:

The MyStemKits.com K – 5 Geometry Lessons consist of a complete set of lessons aligned to the Mathematics Florida Standards (MAFS). This comprehensive set of lessons addresses the entire geometry domain from kindergarten through fifth grade. These lessons were written in response to a summary of the research on the development of mathematical thinking in children by Clements and Sarama (2009). In their book, Learning and Teaching Early Math: The Learning Trajectories Approach, Clements and Sarama (2009) describe the learning trajectories for the development of shape in children. To develop a rich and robust understanding of the defining attributes of two- and three-dimensional shapes, Clements and Sarama (2009) recommend incorporating the following four features in the geometry curriculum:

  • 1. Provide numerous and varied examples of shapes as well as nonexamples to develop a finer understanding of the defining attributes of each shape.
  • 2. Encourage students to describe shapes using language that references their defining attributes.
  • 3. Expose students to a wide variety of shape classes and, to the extent possible, relationships among classes.
  • 4. Challenge students with a wide variety of geometric activities.

The MyStemKits.com K – 5 Geometry Lessons were developed to reflect these recommendations. Each of the basic shape kits includes conventional examples of shapes from various shape classes (exemplars), a number of variations within each shape class (variants), and shapes that might be mistaken for shapes within a class (distractors). For example, the Basic Shapes: Triangle Kit contains exemplars such as an equilateral and an acute isosceles triangle, variants such as an acute scalene and an obtuse isosceles triangle, and distractors such as a sector and a chevron. Throughout the lessons, students are asked to distinguish between examples and nonexamples of shapes and justify their decisions by appealing to the defining attributes of the shape class (e.g., the defining attributes of a triangle are that it is a closed, flat shape with three straight sides). The K – 5 Geometry Lessons incorporate a variety of pedagogical approaches (e.g., whole group discussions, engaging group and partner activities, active student participation, assessment opportunities, and self-assessment exercises) and reflect the Standards for Mathematical Practice included in the MAFS.

The kits developed for these lessons include the following:

Download one of our sample curriculum supplements included with the Model Guide here:

Basic Shapes: Triangles Kit – Shape Types 


Numbers, Counting, and Algebraic Thinking

This collection of kits is aimed at really nailing down student understanding of numerals, counting, addition, multiplication and mental math. Using integrated kits that draw on what students are used to seeing and challenging them with what they’re not, this set of kits forces students to really understand everything from composing and decomposing numbers all the way up to adding and multiplying fractions, decimals, and percentages. Designed to be intuitive and hands-on, it features exploratory learning kits like our Teeter Totter Balance Kit, Portions of a Whole Kit and our four-kit series on understanding numerals and counting.


Measurement and Data

Currently still in development, this collection of kits cover each of the measurement and data standards in the early elementary grades and help students understand object attributes, how to measure and define them, and develop a foundation for understanding and using measuring devices such as rulers. Currently available kits which can be used to address some of these standards include our Geometry Sticks Kits and our Measuring Precision Kit. Forthcoming kits include our Exploring Measurable Attributes Kit and our Measuring with Length Units Kit.


Science

Currently explored with our open-ended Marble Tracks Kit and hands-on Ways of Movement Kit, our elementary science kits are about letting the students play, experiment, and learn. Forthcoming kits in this category will explore pushes, pulls, and the food chain, and will help provide a solid foundation for students in various scientific fields.

Ready to bring 3D printing into your school in a meaningful way?

Have any additional ideas for new elementary kits? Share them in the comments – you might just see your idea become reality!

References
Clements, D. H. and Sarama, J. (2009). Learning and teaching early math: The learning trajectories approach. New York, New York: Routledge.
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