New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 13

Accepted Abstracts

Arousing enthusiasm for STEM: Teaching 3D Printing Technology

Laura Thurn, University of Applied Sciences Aachen (Germany)

Andreas Gebhardt, University of Applied Sciences Aachen (Germany)


3D Printing is about to revolve the way we think about, design and make products. As it is a fully integrated part of the digital product development/production, it is essential for all technically interested to understand the capability, challenges and drawbacks. While 3D Printing marks a hype even in private areas it is fragmentarily taught in technical education.

Additionally, the technology evolves much faster than present day education, causing an increasing gap between the state of the art and knowledge transfer.

3D Printing is at the same time an excellent tool to stimulate the enthusiasm of young people for STEM. Through an explorative and playful approach interests can be aroused and important competences are promoted.

Teaching 3D Printing technology can be used in a wide variety of ways: already in elementary school, to get little ones up early, playfully inspire them with technology, to develop specialist knowledge in secondary schools, but also in technical training and teaching/research at universities. Different concepts allow both, the integration into existing course structures, but also extensions of the current curriculum.

Our goal is a newly trimmed balance between theory and praxis obtained by a hands-on training. The methodology is upside down: Starting from Scratch with practical sessions integrated in a theoretical course, the necessary theory is taught step by step within a digitally supported practical course.

The technology indeed makes it possible to link different technical disciplines but also create transfer between completely different subjects, i.e.: humanities and engineering sciences. As an example, pupils learn to redesign an historic building and link the architecture to the different eras by color. Finally, they print the building true to scale and history.

On the basis they transfer the lessons learned into a 3D drawing which is a 3D print.

The concept can be regarded as an example of how to stimulate social competences by means of technical, interdisciplinary knowledge through the use of 3D printing: participants gain self-confidence by acting, they experience, give appreciation and learn from/with each other. Simultaneously the enthusiasm for STEM is awakened by an exploratory and playful approach to the new technology. 
[1] Gerrad Consulting, “The W – Model”, last visit 14.01.2017, 


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