WINTER  2018 |  Issue 2
LightWerks is an industry leader in providing full service audiovisual technology integration; specializing in design, installation and support of audio, video and cloud based solutions. It is our mission to keep our customers well educated, trained and supported so they can continue to do what they do best.

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3D Printing Meets the Self-Driven, Autonomous Project Solvers at The Sycamore School 


LightWerks partnered with the The Sycamore School in Malibu to integrate 3D printing into their school community. We were fortunate to drop by just as a student's project was in its final stages of printing and ready to be removed from the 3D printer. The student was delighted with his creation, and his excitement was contagious!

LightWerks met with two of The Sycamore School's founders, AJ Webster and Christy Durham, to discuss how 3D printing has added value and aligned to the teaching and learning philosophies at school.

AJ and Christy, along with Tedd Wakeman, opened their school with an important question in mind: Why do we want kids to go to school? "We wanted to focus on autonomous problem solvers and meaning creators," AJ explained, "people who look at the world and ask questions. So we start everything with observations and asking questions, and we end everything with reflection and debrief. We try to focus on questions like, "What did we get out of this? What did we learn? What do we change for next time?"

Christy and AJ talked about how their students are encouraged to take things apart to see what they are made of. They want children to see that 
every big problem is made up of smaller problems, and that people solved each and every little, individual problem in the process of producing these more complex items. Students at The Sycamore School have deconstructed toasters, vacuums, telephones, and countless other objects in order to gain a hands-on  understanding that "things" are constructed items.

AJ explained that learning at The Sycamore School is based on three pillars. The first pillar is engagement. For The Sycamore School, this means being actively  involved, and incorporating a lot of play-based, maker, and project based learning. The second pillar is  continuous education. The school believes that what a child cares about at home should be acknowledged and built upon at school, and that what is accomplished at school should be useful to students in real life.  The third pillar is that The Sycamore School encourages learning that is future-focused. "We want to focus on skills that will actually matter," AJ said. "The critical thinking, the creativity, the problem solving, the curiosity...  that's the big picture of what we are about."

AJ described the excitement over the kindergarten class developing their own Chutes and Ladders style game that was based on a jungle diorama one of them made. During the afternoon, the class would be designing slot bases for their individual drawing game pieces. The bases were being designed as a class using TinkerCad projected on the screen. Later, they would print their designs with the 3D printer. The plan was to print the bases, talk about what worked and what didn't, iterate, and eventually create a successful print! "We worked together on Tinkercad to design bases to hold their characters," AJ explained. "This process required several iterations. Then we decided that we needed a spinner. We looked at Thingiverse. Students suggested many different search terms until we found a spinner that they all liked; however, after we printed it, they realized that the first one we printed (the black one) was too small. You couldn't hold it steady and spin it without the pointer hitting your fingers. So we modded it and printed the green version. They were much happier with that one."

Having access to a 3D printer at The Sycamore School has given students opportunities to design and bring their ideas to life. According to the school's blog, which can be found here, students "generated design ideas for objects they would like to eventually print. Then, they asked questions about possible challenges they might face in executing those designs.  For the first design challenge, students sketched illustrations that they then uploaded to the MakerBot PrintShop app. Using this app, students determined the height for their illustration, as well as whether or not their design would be hollow, contain a floor, or be filled in. Students were adaptable when they encountered flaws in their design. Sometimes over-detailing didn't translate into the 3D rendering on the app. They used this as an opportunity to reiterate and improve upon their illustration."

The next design challenge was to create a bead maze. The Sycamore School's blog described how this project  allowed students to "work with measurement, scale, and geometry. Students had to take action and solve problems such as creating passageways in their maze large enough to allow the bead to travel. They also worked collaboratively by designing the mazes in teams."
Integrating a 3D printer into The Sycamore School's learning environment most definitely seems to align with the school's philosophies on education, and LightWerks is so honored to be a part of this incredible new journey. "For us, it's a lot about autonomy and agency," said AJ. "It is kids recognizing that they can build things in the world, that they can make things, that they can change things. Seeing that they can come up with ideas and realize them."

Click here for more information on how LightWerks can help your school integrate 3D printers into learning spaces!
The All-New MakerBot Replicator+

Using 3D  printers in the classroom is easy with MakerBot.  Ready to go, right out of the box, MakerBot printers offer the simplest setup experience, and easy to use software, with no tinkering required!

The MakerBot Replicator+ prints 30% faster than its predecessor and offers a 25% larger build volume.  For greater reliability and precision, it features improved  hardware, like a redesigned gantry and z-stage.

In order to improve our service to all of our customers, LightWerks is pleased to introduce our new HelpDesk capability. For those of you on one of our TLC (Technology-Loving Care) Service Agreements, or even if you're not, please feel free to submit requests for service via our new HelpDesk, located here.
LightWerks has been described as " big enough " to have the professional capabilities and proficiency to manage large scale projects but " small enough " to offer personalized attention and exceptional customer service.  See more testimonials here.

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