Gotha Middle Multimedia Center Gets 3D Printers | Southwest Orange



Students at Gotha Middle School know they are going digital this year with the District’s One-to-One Digital Learning Program.

But what they may not know is that they will also have access to technology that will allow them to build chess pieces, sculptures and more: 3D printers.


Media specialist Trina Labaw is entering her fourth year at the Gotha Middle Media Center and has wanted digital printers for students for years.

“One of the things I do is try to stay with the most current trends, and creation and creative spaces (are) the thing to come, and that’s already in a lot of schools,” Labaw said. “In our district, we have a lot of multimedia centers that already have 3D printers. It’s one of those things where it’s the future of what we do. Schools must give children what will be their future, and we cannot just wait for them to catch up.

“You have to bring it to them, so when we had the opportunity to have a few extra dollars that I could get myself, I jumped on it,” she said.

The school now has two 3D printers, one “XYZprinting da Vinci Jr.” model and the other by Dremel. After tuition and license fees, Labaw estimates that the printers cost around $ 500 and $ 1,600, respectively. They arrived shortly after the end of the last school year.

Students will be able to use programs from Dremel or Tinkercad, both of which are user-friendly 3D design tools, to turn their ideas into models that can then be printed. Tinkercad has built-in tutorials, and students will be able to save their designs to a USB drive, plug it into the printer, and print directly from there.

One of the examples of objects produced by the Dremel printer is a finger puppet in the shape of a bear.

Both printers use spools of plastic filament, which they heat up like a hot glue gun. The printing process takes time, from a few minutes to a few hours, depending on the size and scope of the current project.

“(The printer) makes a honeycomb pattern at the bottom (during construction) and that’s what I want the kids to watch out for during construction,” Labaw said. “You’d think it would just be concentric circles, but… the honeycomb pattern is for strength and you don’t have to fill every little hole, so it saves (filament). It’s part of how strong these parts can be but fairly inexpensive – each spool costs around $ 30, and you don’t need much to do what you’re doing.

“I would love to see our guitar students make their own picks, I would love to see our art students turn their 2D objects into 3D objects, and I would like to see them take their sculptures from hand to 3D, so they can compare and contrast what they did, ”she said.

Labaw also has other new tech, such as 3D doodle pens and tools, and sets designed for DIY. Since students will have their own laptops, the plan is to move desktops from the media center to classrooms to create more space for creative spaces.

“It’s good (because) we have six different STEM courses, so they can really work with (Labaw) on how we can incorporate that more into their STEM courses, as well as computer science and art.” digital course, ”said Deputy Director Matthew Owens.


One point that the school administration hopes to highlight with 3D printers is that schools today are not the ones people attended in the past – it is now full steam ahead with technology.

“We are looking for more things to offer children in this digital mindset and in the 21st century world,” said Owens. “A lot of our kids say they want to get into engineering or a STEM field, so we say, ‘Well, what would you use? … We now live in a globalized society and market, so our children must be able to compete globally with other children around the world, not just the children of the Gotha and Windermere region.

“For us as an administrative team it was very important that if we can find things to make it work and make it happen, we want to make sure we can do it,” he said. “It’s a hands-on experience, and that’s what we want our students to do. We want them to experiment and collaborate because in today’s workforce you have to do these things. “

Labaw added that students will be able to learn by trial and error while creating and discovering what works and what doesn’t.

“The beauty of these is that they allow students to solve problems – they have to think about the design from start to finish, the assumptions, and ‘how do I solve it?’ She said. “It’s a really good experience trying to troubleshoot and understand all of this. The collaboration that the kids are going to do together to make these projects work is what excites me the most, because the conversations are going to be, “Well, how do you make this work? ” … It’s going to be awesome.”


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