SCIENCE OF INNOVATION: 3-D Printing - A Science Perspective (Grades 6-12)

Objective:


Framework for K-12 Science Education: ETS1.A: Defining and Delimiting Engineering Problems, ETS2.A: Interdependence of Science, Engineering, and Technology, ETS2.B: Influence of Engineering, Technology, and Science on Society and the Natural World


Introduction Notes:


Science of innovation

3-D Printing

A Science Perspective (Grades 6–12)

 

Lesson plans produced by the National Science Teachers Association.

Video produced by NBC Learn in collaboration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office
and the National Science Foundation.

 

Background and Planning

 

About the Video

This video features Michael Cima, Ph.D. (Chemical Engineering), and Emanuel Sachs, Ph.D. (Mechanical Engineering), both professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Drs. Cima and Sachs helped pioneer methods of 3-D printing, in which three-dimensional models and manufactured products are created by a computerized “additive” process. Unlike traditional manufacturing techniques that fabricate objects by removing material from a larger block (subtractive processing), additive fabrication consists of building objects up in thin layers—one layer at a time.  Cima and Sachs’ “printer’s ink” consists of a binding agent added to a bed of powder. The video discusses how these devices are revolutionizing the creative process so that individuals can quickly produce their own three-dimensional objects using computer software and ink-jet technology equipment, to enable the manufacture of objects that are difficult to produce with existing traditional techniques. The video also explains how the patent process enables the protection of new ideas, so that inventors can benefit from their work and the sharing of these ideas with other scientists and engineers.

 

0:00     0:14     Series opening

0:15     0:58     Introducing 3-D printing at the 2012 Maker Faire in New York City

0:59     1:18     Introducing Dr. Cima and Dr. Sachs

1:19     2:07     Explaining additive versus older subtractive fabrication process

2:08     3:16     Explaining Cima and Sachs’ particular method, using powder and liquid binder

3:17     3:50     Describing the role of the patent process in protecting and sharing ideas

3:51     4:10     Briefly describing other manufacturing methods of 3-D printing

4:11     4:34     Broader value: making things with 3-D printing impossible to produce otherwise

4:35     4:54     3-D printing as a tool for scientists, engineers, and backyard inventors

4:55     5:08     Closing credits

 

Language Support

To aid those with limited English proficiency or others who need help focusing on the video, make transcript of the video available. Click the Transcript tab on the side of the video window, then copy and paste into a document for student reference.

 

Framework for K–12 Science Education

      ETS1.A: Defining and Delimiting Engineering Problems

      ETS2.A: Interdependence of Science, Engineering, and Technology

      ETS2.B: Influence of Engineering, Technology, and Science on Society and the Natural World

 

(page 1)

 

Emphasize Innovation

 

The Innovation Process

Patents

Filing for a patent is one part of the innovation process. Dr. Cima emphasizes the importance of doing so, not only to protect an idea, but also to share information. In exchange for this sharing of information, the government gives an inventor a temporary right to exclude others from making, using, or selling his/her invention. The inventor agrees to disclose all of the information about how the invention works so that others can improve upon the idea or invention, thus providing an even larger and more sustainable contribution to society. This quid pro quo paradigm of inventions enables others to continuously reshape, retool, and re-evaluate the world by constantly building upon previous platforms of invention.

 

Take Action with Students

Discuss with students how existing technologies can be modified or extended to new uses or applications. For example, the basic technology for distributing the liquid binder on the powder is that of ink-jet printers, which were originally intended for only two-dimensional surfaces (paper). This shows that innovation does not always consist of totally new ideas, but often results from realizing that an existing technology can be used in a new way to address and solve new problems.

 

Innovation and STEM

The innovation highlighted in Science of Innovation (SOI): 3-D Printing incorporates many aspects of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education. For example, required science knowledge involves an understanding of materials and properties of substances to develop the so-called “ink” of the printer and its color and consistency, and how the printed layers will adhere to one another to form a solid, 3-D structure. Math concepts involve programming and the translation of two-dimensional layers into three-dimensional structures that include open interior spaces. Starting with a vision and applying scientific principles and mathematical knowledge, a technology was born.

 

Drs. Cima and Sachs were originally trying to find a way to make three-dimensional models that designers of various objects could use to aid in visualizing, understanding, and displaying objects, ranging from small manufactured items to buildings. Later, they realized that, given appropriate materials, the method could be used to manufacture these objects themselves, rather than simply producing models of them. The engineering design process then made way for size and cost reductions in the technology by evaluating the constraints that limited the use of it. A tool that used to be the size of a large storage cabinet can now sit on your desktop at a tiny fraction of the original cost. Now the technology is even used by artists, for example, to create computer-designed sculptures. This shows how new technologies often end up having a much wider range of uses than the innovators originally envisioned.

 

 

(page 2)

 

 

 

Take Action with Students

         Using the Design Investigations section of Facilitate Inquiry as a guide, encourage students to investigate how a three-dimensional object can be developed by assembling the object from slices or layers and doing so layer-by-layer. Students might make topographic map models or construct models such as comparative vertebrate heart structures or various atomic structures, among others.

         Help students brainstorm or search the Internet to form a list of some materials or combinations of materials that might be usable in additive manufacturing. These include plastics, ceramics, and metals, with various processes such as heating used to bind, solidify, or strengthen them. Have students discuss what uses each technology might have. Extend the discussion to include how information about the shapes of the objects might be represented, stored, and used to control the printer.

 

Caution:An Internet search of 3-D printing may quickly turn up many articles about “printable guns,” which are now, to some degree, a reality. You might choose to lead a discussion on this application, or perhaps should simply be aware of it in advance, to avoid such discussion should you deem it inappropriate or too controversial. A 2013 National Public Radio news article can provide an overview. Listen to it at: http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2013/02/06/171154845/using-3-d-printers-to-make-gun-parts-raises-alarms .

 

Facilitate Inquiry

Encourage inquiry using a strategy modeled on the research-based science writing heuristic. Student work will vary in complexity and depth depending on grade level, prior knowledge, and creativity. Use the prompts liberally to encourage thought and discussion. Student Copy Masters begin on page 9.

 

Explore Understanding

While humans in general have the capacity to visualize objects in three dimensions, many students may not have given much thought to how one might create a model that represents the three-dimensional shape of an object. In order to create an object through additive manufacturing or 3-D printing, a pattern or a set of instructions is necessary, and in some way must involve dimensions of the object’s surface(s). Have volunteers who are familiar with interlocking building blocks describe how they build intricate structures in layers, or show photos of sculptures such as a hummingbird by Flickr photographer Scott McLeod, http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcleod/7151833219. After this discussion, use these or similar prompts to spark a discussion about the process of describing and producing a three-dimensional object.

         To put together such a sculpture, you would start by….

         The dimensions of an object are commonly described by….

         To produce an object with an open space in it, one could….

         To plan how to build my 3-D object in layers I might….

 

                                                                                      (page 3)

 

 

Show the video SOI: 3-D Printing and encourage students to jot down notes while they watch. Continue the discussion of modeling and additive manufacturing/3-D printing, using prompts such as the following:

         When I watched the video, I thought about….

         The expert in the video was inspired to create 3-D printing in order to….

         Additive manufacturing differs from subtractive manufacturing in that….

         Other uses of this process include….

         Other ways to accomplish additive manufacturing include….

         Limitations of the process featured in the video include….

         Patents enable the patent-holder to….

 

Ask Beginning Questions

Stimulate small-group discussion with the prompt: This video makes me think about these questions…. Then have groups list questions they have about the challenges that must be surmounted in order to produce three-dimensional objects by additive processes. Ask groups to choose one question and phrase it in such a way as to be researchable and/or testable. The following are some examples.

         How is information about the shape of the object stored and used in this process?

         How can I determine if a 3-D structure can be made using this technology?

         How does the powder become a solid structure?

         What are some advantages of additive manufacturing over subtractive manufacturing?

         What advantages might the older subtractive method still have over additive methods?

         What are some structures we could compare and contrast by simulating 3-D printing methodology?

         How is the 3-D printing process similar to or different from some other “layered” models such as topographic maps, structures of interlocking blocks, or a medical CT scan?

 

Design Investigations

Choose one of the following options based on your students’ knowledge, creativity, and ability level and your available materials. Actual materials needed will vary greatly based on these factors as well.

 

Possible Materials

Allow time for students to examine and manipulate the materials you have available. Doing so often aids students in refining their questions or prompts new ones that should be recorded for future investigation. In this inquiry, students might use materials such as tracing paper, scissors, corrugated cardboard, glue, paper-mâché, or modeling clay. If students explore topographic maps, guide students to the online topographic maps mentioned in the Focused Approach, but allow students to find most data on their own. Some might use the topographic maps, and others might use Google Earth for this purpose.

 

Safety Considerations

To augment your own safety procedures, see NSTA’s Safety Portal at http://www.nsta.org/portals/safety.aspx.

 

(page 4)

Open Choice Approach (Copy Master page 9)

Groups might come together to agree on a method for determining the topography of their own neighborhood (if significant elevation differences are present) or of another location, which might involve researching background information. They then might decide how to use the available materials to construct a relief map of the chosen area. Encourage students with prompts such as the following:

         Information we need to understand before we can start our investigation is….

         We will choose a location by considering….

         We will determine elevation differences by….

         The steps we will follow to gather this information are….

         We will construct a relief map of the chosen area by….

         The vertical scale, relative to the horizontal scale, will be determined by….

         To conduct the investigation safely, we will….

 

Focused Approach (Copy Master page 10)

The following exemplifies how students could find and characterize local topography (either around their own neighborhood or in some other location) and construct a relief map of it out of clay, cardboard, or even a combination of these. The connection with 3-D printing is that the process of building up the layers of the relief map is very similar to the additive process employed by 3-D printers such as those shown in the video. One issue that will arise is that of exaggerated vertical scale, especially if a relatively flat area is chosen. Students who want to expand on their maps might use information from the USGS at http://topomaps.usgs.gov.

1.      After students examine the materials you have available to construct a topographic map, ask them questions such as the following to help them envision their investigation.

         What do the contour lines on the map show?

         How will we determine an appropriate vertical scale for our model?

         What system of units will we use?

         How, and from what, will we construct the relief map?

         How will we form the layers, and control their thickness?

         How thick will each layer be?

         What will we do about data in between the lines?

2.      You may choose to supply the topographic maps, or have the students print them in class. Free topographic maps can be found on the Internet, for example, from http://www.digital-topo-maps.com/. Students might construct their maps in different ways. Tracing paper could be used to construct a pattern for creating cardboard relief layers. Students could also shape clay layers directly on the original map, and then carefully peel them off and place them on a base, layering them to show the relief represented on the map.

3.      Once students have produced the layers with the correct shapes, they must find a way to assemble them correctly, both horizontally and vertically. Tracing paper could be used to outline the lines to help place the layers in the correct locations, or the students might carefully “eyeball” the original map to make sure they are placing the layers correctly. This is a good opportunity for creative problem-solving, as there may be several possible approaches, each with advantages and drawbacks. Students should be encouraged to discuss the following with other members of their group:

 

                                                                                         (page 5)

         The cardboard (or clay) can be used to create a three-dimensional model,
layer by layer, by….

         The “slices” can be placed in the correct locations by….

         Missing data (between contour lines) can be “filled in” by….

         This process is similar to 3-D printing because....

         This process is different from 3-D printing because....

4.      Ensure that students brainstorm to decide how to form and connect the layers of their models. Use prompts like these to guide them in their thinking:

         The best way to shape the layers (of cardboard or clay) is….

         The best way to connect the layers is….

         To conduct the investigation safely, we will….

5.      If the location chosen is nearby, students might, as an outside or homework assignment, use a GPS device or Google Earth to check the accuracy of their topographic maps.

 

Media Research Option

Groups might have questions that are best explored using print media and online resources. Students should brainstorm to form a list of key words and phrases they could use in Internet search engines that might result in resources that will help them answer the question. Review how to safely browse the Web, how to evaluate information on the Internet for accuracy, and how to correctly cite the information found. Suggest students make note of any interesting tangents they find in their research effort for future inquiry. Encourage students with prompts such as the following:

         Words and phrases associated with our question are….

         The reliability of our sources was established by….

         The science and math concepts that underpin a possible solution are….

         Our research might feed into an engineering design solution such as….

         To conduct the investigation safely, we will….

 

Make a Claim Backed by Evidence

Students should analyze their data and then make one or more claims based on the evidence their data shows. Encourage students with this prompt: As evidenced by… we claim… because….

 

An example claim might be: As evidenced by the closer spacing between contour lines in certain parts of the map, we claim that the land there is more steeply sloped because the same change in elevation occurs over a shorter horizontal distance.

 

Compare Findings

Encourage students to compare their ideas with those of others—such as classmates who investigated the same or similar questions; material they found on the Internet; experts who were interviewed; or their textbooks. Remind students to credit their original sources in their comparisons. Elicit comparisons from students with prompts such as the following:

         My model is similar to (or different from) the models constructed in the video in that….

         My methods are similar to (or different from) those of the experts in the video in that….

         My methods are similar to (or different from) those of my classmates in that….

         My methods are similar to (or different from) those that I found on the Internet in that….

 

(page 6)

Students might make comparisons like the following:

As compared to the actual 3-D printing technique featured in the video, my topographic map is different in that I chose to exaggerate the vertical dimension for the sake of clarity, while the 3-D printing technique is generally used to make an exact replica.

 

Reflect on Learning

Students should reflect on their understanding, thinking about how their ideas have changed or what they know now that they didn’t before. Encourage reflection using prompts such as the following:

         A claim made by the expert in the video is….

         I support or refute the expert’s claim because, in my investigation, ….

         When thinking about the method used in the video, I am confused as to how….

         A related technology I would like to explore is….

 

Inquiry Assessment

See the rubric included in the student Copy Masters on page 11.

 

 

Incorporate Video into Your Lesson Plan

 

Integrate Video in Instruction

Bellringer:  Play the video as students are getting settled on a day when your lesson focus is how to read maps, especially topographic ones, or how to use scales on maps. Have students note features 3-D printing has in common with topographic mapping. Use their observations a springboard for points in your lesson.

 

Compare/Contrast:  Have students compare and contrast Drs. Cima and Sachs’ additive process with other layered processes, such as constructing a CT scan or paper-mâché figure.

 

Using the 5E Approach?

If you use a 5E approach to lesson plans, consider incorporating video in these Es:

Explain:  Use the Design Investigations section of Facilitate Inquiry to support your lessons on mapping or use of contour lines in general.

Elaborate:  Have students brainstorm to identify other examples in which contour lines are used to represent some kind of data, where they—literally or figuratively—represent some kind of “height.” Examples include many types of data found on weather maps, such as those at http://asp1.sbs.ohio-state.edu/ and population density maps. Many examples can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contour_line.

 

Connect to … Language Arts

Write

Project the video segment showing Drs. Cima and Sachs’ particular method of 3-D printing (2:08–3:16). Have students write a paragraph describing this method as clearly and concisely as possible. If deemed appropriate, have students trade paragraphs with partners to allow constructive criticism of how the language could be clarified.

 

(page 7)

Prompt Innovation with Video

After students watch the video, have them research patents associated with 3-D printing. They can do so with an Internet search on Google.com/patents using search terms such as the following. If time is limited, point students toward the patent examples.

 

• Extrusion

• Lamination

• Printhead

• Discrete

• Solid Freeform Fabrication

• Sintering

• Prototying

• Vulcanization

• 3-D printing

• Three dimensional printing

• Additive manufacturing

• Subtractive manufacturing

• Themoplastic powder

• Metal powders

• Photopolymer

• Liquid resin

 

Patent Examples

US 6,164,850 – 3-D Printing and Forming of Structures; claims direct to printing method

US 7,291,002 – Apparatus and Methods for 3-D Printing; claims direct to printing apparatus

US 8,175,734 – Methods and System for Enabling Printing Three-Dimensional Object Models; claims direct to a printing method and a computer system (apparatus) used with the method.

US 2012/0165969 – 3-D Printing on a Rotating Cylindrical Surface; claims direct to a printing method and a printing device (apparatus) used with the method. NOTE: This is only a publication of a patent pending. Make sure students realize the difference between a patent that has been granted and one that is pending.

 

Suggest students read abstracts of patents that attract their attention. Then hold a discussion about how various innovators are improving on the process. Use prompts such as the following:

         This patent is for _____, which is related to the invention shown in the video by….

         This patent describes _____, which differs from the invention shown in the video in that….

         I think doing/making _____ would be an innovation because….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(page 8)


 

Copy Master: Open Choice Inquiry Guide for Students

 

Science of Innovation: 3-D Printing

Use this guide to investigate how you might make a three-dimensional model of the local topography, or of another area you find interesting. Write your lab report in your science notebook.

 

Ask Beginning Questions

The video makes me think about these questions….

 

Design Investigations

Choose one question. How can you answer it? Brainstorm with your teammates. Write a procedure that describes how you will obtain the topographical data and how you will use it to construct the relief map. Look up information as needed. Add safety precautions.

         Information we need to understand before we can start our investigation is….

         The materials we will use are….

         The measurements we will make include….

         The steps we will take to construct the relief map are….

         The vertical scale we will use is….

         To conduct the investigation safely, we will….

 

Make a Claim Backed by Evidence

Analyze the procedure you followed and the results you produced and then make one or more claims based on the evidence shown by these.

 

My Evidence

My Claim

My Reason

 

 

 

 

 

 

Compare Methods

Review the video and then discuss your results with classmates who did the same activity. Or do research on the Internet or talk with an expert. How do your methods compare? Be sure to give credit to others when you use their methods in your comparisons.

         My methods are similar to (or different from) those of the experts in the video in that….

         My methods are similar to (or different from) those of my classmates in that….

         My methods are similar to (or different from) those that I found on the Internet in that….

 

Reflect on Learning

Think about what you found out. How does it fit with what you already knew? How does it change what you thought you knew?

         The method we used is similar to 3-D printing in that….

         The method we used is different from 3-D printing in that….

         Other types of models made using a layered process I would like to explore are….

                                                                              

(page 9)


 

 

COPY MASTER: Focused Inquiry Guide for Students

 

Science of Innovation: 3-D Printing

Use this guide to investigate how to find the topography of a region of your choice, and then reconstruct it as a model of Earth’s surface. Write your lab report in your science notebook.

 

Ask Beginning Questions

How will we determine the topography of the chosen area?

How will we construct the replica once we have determined the topography?

 

Design Investigations

Brainstorm with your teammates about how to answer these questions. Write a procedure that allows you to gather valid data and create the relief map. Look up information as needed. Add safety precautions. Use the following prompts to help you design your investigation.

         Information we need to understand before we can start our investigation is….

         The materials we will use are….

         The measurements we will make include….

         The steps we will take to construct the relief map are….

         The vertical scale we will use is….

         To conduct the investigation safely, we will….

 

Apply Mathematics

Describe the horizontal and vertical scales used in your map, and show and explain the calculations you will make to arrive at these numbers.

         We used _____ as a horizontal scale because….

         We used _____ as a vertical scale because….

         We exaggerated the vertical scale relative to the horizontal scale because….

 

Compare Methods

Review the video and then discuss your results with classmates who did the same activity. Or do research on the Internet or talk with an expert. How do your methods compare? Be sure to give credit to others when you use their methods in your comparisons.

         My model is similar to (or different from) the models constructed in the video in that….

         My methods are similar to (or different from) those of the experts in the video in that….

         My methods are similar to (or different from) those of my classmates in that….

         My methods are similar to (or different from) those that I found on the Internet in that….

 

Reflect on Learning

Think about what you found out. How does it fit with what you already knew? How does it change what you thought you knew?

         The method we used is similar to 3-D printing in that….

         The method we used is different from 3-D printing in that….

         Other types of models built using a layering process I would like to explore are….

 

(page 10)

 

Copy Master: Assessment Rubric for Inquiry Investigations

 

 

Criteria

1 point

2 points

3 points

Initial question

Question had a yes/no answer, was off topic, or otherwise was not researchable or testable.

Question was researchable or testable but too broad or not answerable by the chosen investigation.

Question clearly stated, researchable or testable, and showed direct relationship to investigation.

Investigation design

The design of the investigation did not support a response to the initial question.

While the design supported the initial question, the procedure used to investigate the question was not sufficient.

Variables were clearly identified and controlled as needed with steps and trials that resulted in data that could be used to answer the question.

Safety procedures

Basic laboratory safety procedures were followed, but practices specific to the activity were not identified.

Some, but not all, of the safety equipment was used and only some safe practices needed for this investigation were followed.

Appropriate safety equipment used and safe practices adhered to.

Observations and data

Observations were not made or recorded, and data are unreasonable in nature, not recorded, or do not reflect what actually took place during the investigation.

Observations were made, but were not very detailed, or data appear invalid or were not recorded appropriately.

Detailed observations were made and properly recorded and data are plausible and recorded appropriately.

Claim

No claim was made or the claim had no relationship to the evidence used to support it.

Claim was marginally related to evidence from investigation.

Claim was backed by investigative or research evidence.

Findings comparison

Comparison of findings was limited to a description of the initial question.

Comparison of findings was not supported by the data collected.

Comparison of findings included both methodology and data collected by at least one other entity.

Reflection

Student reflections were limited to a description of the procedure used.

Student reflections were not related to the initial question.

Student reflections described at least one impact on thinking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

(page 11)

 

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