3D Printed Science And Math: Visualizations And Experiments

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3D Printed Science and Math: Visualizations and Experiments

A 3D printer can be used to teach science and math in two ways: when a teacher creates an accurate 3D model of a concept for students to handle, or to design a “starter set” model that students can then alter and use as the basis for explorations. The instructors will impart ideas for developing appropriate content of concepts ranging from kindergarten to grad school and will teach participants to use the free and open source 3D modeling program OpenSCAD. The class assumes participants already know the basics of using a 3D printer, from the UgotClass “Intro to 3D Printing” or equivalent experience.

Recommended optional e-book: Horvath and Cameron, 3D Printed Science Projects (Apress, 2016).


Unit 1: 3D printable math and science models 

  •             Best practices for developing models: visualization vs. experiment
  •             Using the third dimension in novel ways
  •             Making a model easy to print
  •             Avoiding common problems with 3D printable models

Unit 2:  Creating alterable (parametric) models

  •             The OpenSCAD programming environment 
  •             Altering an existing OpenSCAD model
  •             Basics of programming for the non-programmer
  •             Creating your own simple OpenSCAD model                   


Unit 3:  Creating a visualization model

  •             Types of math and science models lending themselves to visualization
  •             Deciding what to keep in and keep out
  •             Examples
  •             Creating your own visualization

Unit 4:  The 3D print as experiment

  •             What is a 3D printable “experiment?”
  •             How much variation is it practical to build in to a base model?
  •             Examples
  •             Creating your own experiment