In the past few weeks, 3D printers have made their way into high street shops, the Jigsaw24 office and now, the UK’s classrooms. Education Secretary Michael Gove has announced that he plans to invest £500,000 in 3D printing at 60 schools across the UK, in the hope that this new technology will help students achieve better results in maths, sciences and design and technology.
The Department of Education has already run a pilot scheme in which 21 schools were provided with 3D printers, and this new funding will be used to equip a further 60 schools, which will then act as teaching centres where staff from any institution can learn how to make the most of the devices.
The decision comes after a report into the initial pilot concluded that although many schools were able to put the technology to good use eventually – creating model body parts for biology or components for technology projects, for example – the printers were often underused early on. It is hoped that establishing ‘teaching schools’ where staff can receive training and advice will shorten the learning curve teachers currently face.
As reported by The Telegraph, Mr Gove said 3D printers were “revolutionising manufacturing and it is vital that we start teaching the theory and practice in our schools”.
“Teaching schools will be able to develop and spread effective methods to do this,” he said. “Combined with our introduction of a computer science curriculum and teacher training, this will help our schools give pupils valuable skills.”