Jefferson Hills Intermediate students launch 3D store
Sarah Greenblatt is designing a snowman ornament that she thinks all cold weather fans will love.
Ava Sorley’s ornament will showcase Pittsburgh sports, because she loves cheering on the black and gold on the field and in the rink.
Sage Mares has opted to create a Valentine’s Day ornament with layers of hearts to bring love to all.
A group of fourth and fifth graders at Jefferson Hills Intermediate School have created everything from TJ-themed cookie cutters to black and gold cat toys on the 3D printer.
And they’re hoping people will buy their creative designs to allow their newly formed club to become a self-sustaining business.
The TJ 3D Club debuted at the intermediate school in October with more than 100 members.
The club was formed by art teacher Adam Gebhardt and science teacher Stephen Lauso, who are both self-proclaimed 3D printing enthusiasts, who have utilized the technology in their classrooms for several years.
Between the two teachers, they have six 3D printers in their classrooms.
“I look at 3D printers as just a new way of creating,” Gebhardt said. “It’s important that we continue to adapt and bring in those new opportunities to be creative. We really believe this — 3D printing — is going to be the future of manufacturing, to a large degree. It’s going to revolutionize the way we create new objects and new products.”
That’s why the teachers want their students to learn how to use the devices early. It’s a plus that the kids enjoy it.
They know they love to draw, but this takes it to a whole new dimension.
“It’s like watching a movie on a flat-screen versus watching a movie in virtual reality,” Lauso said. “It’s like drawing a picture on a piece of paper versus creating something that you can reach out and you can hold it.”
In class, Gebhardt has his students design buildings on Tinkercad, using their Chromebooks, which are then produced on the 3D printers. He links the buildings together into a town each year to display at the school’s annual art show. The students learn architecture and how to design a building.
Lauso uses the printers in fourth grade to teach science students about engineering and design. In class, they make their own personalized keychains and learn about the need to revise, alter and collaborate to make a product work.
The teachers found that students wanted to do more. They were excited about this type of learning – that’s where the idea for the club came from.
They partnered with Real World Scholars EdCorps, which provides the backing for the kids’ entrepreneurial business. The organization provides a website and financial support that helped get the club off the ground.
The club will run like a business, where students will handle everything from designing the products to sales.
Not every product they create can be produced, so they will have to make the tough choices as to which designs they think people will buy. The ultimate goal is for the club to be self-sustaining and to bring in enough money to buy supplies to make more products.
The club hosted a kick-off on Oct. 24, with more than 200 people in attendance.
Students in fourth and fifth grade meet once a week during recess to go over updates and goals for the club. However, they can do much of the work on their own.
In the club, students will be given tasks to design various items. They will then have to decide which items to mass produce for sale.
The first task is to create ornaments to see at the Handmade Arcade at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center on Dec. 7. Students will be selected for the business end of the club and will attend the arcade to sell their items.
The club also has an online store. Purchases can be made at www.tj3dclub.com/store.html.
Currently, purchases made can be picked up on a specified day at the school. However, plans in the future are to start shipping the items.
Haley Wetzel, 10, said she hopes these skills help her in the future when 3D printing becomes big. She’ll already know the skills.
Students said they enjoy the work. In Gebhardt’s class, as they work on their designs, not a word is uttered, except when students are helping each other complete their task.
“You have to really be focused to get the things perfect,” Haley said.
“I think it’s a good opportunity for us to be creative,” Sage said.