Students enjoy 3D printer
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Students enjoy 3D printer

ISUtrecht students were thrilled with the gift of a 3D printer from one governing board. This piece of equipment allows our students to further their spatial understanding and provide means to make their ideas tangible.

By Poyee Li-Sumpton and Annabel Kjar, secondary Design teachers

MYP Design is a natural marriage of Arts, Science and Technology in which students learn by giving form to their ideas and use practical and creative thinking skills to solve design problems. In Design, students use computers and other technologies in creative ways in a wider range and depth of projects. Participating in interdisciplinary projects allows them to demonstrate their competence and to connect knowledge.

Lego bricks

In the Grade 6 Lego Brick project, students transferred their knowledge of Google Sketch Up they had learned in Science class to draw the Lego brick in 3D in Design. The Lego bricks were printed from the students’ 3D drawings using the 3D printer.

Having a 3D printer in a classroom setup allows students to materialize their ideas and encourages them to think more critically. At ISUtrecht we are building towards creating 21st century classrooms for learners to think and know and do. Personal fabrication using the 3D printer and using the Design Cycle allows the students to develop a more complex and more complete understanding of a design situation and to develop and create a feasible design solution.

Next Nature Network

In this project, students not only learn superficial aspect of modeling, but were able to make conceptual connections between a model and a design. Next year, we hope to use the printer to embody the Grade 8 redesigns of a character or mascot- a Cinderella 2.0 for instance, one that can reach different audiences, address gender stereotyping and promote healthier body images and also be used to print the student design for the NanoSupermarket. This is a project initiated by the Next Nature Network which investigates the role that new technologies will play in the production of our daily needs.

Personal Projects

Design is an iterative process of planning and critical reflection enabling students to project their ideas outwards. The learning processes learned in Design encompass inquiry, critical thinking, analysis, planning, creating, refining and revising. These provide a model for the to be undertaken by students completing their Personal Project. This is an individual project undertaken by Grade 10 students, borne from personal interests and talents and is considered as a celebration and culmination of their learning at the end of the MYP. Having a 3D printer may provide incentive for student’s projects and needs: perhaps to build models for shelter conditions, or even design prosthetic limbs.


Projects like these are what the students remember after the classes are done.   Not only were the students engaged in this creative process, but also empowered to create a successful outcome. It teaches them resilience and problem solving and to balance risk and imagination.

A big thank you from ISUtrecht!!!