3D printing pens for creativity
Educators today are encouraged to embed emerging technologies in their pedagogy to foster creativity in students. Most students prefer learning with hands-on activities that integrate academic subjects (Dousay & Weible, 2019). For instance, 3D printing pens can foster creativity in students – if only used effectively.
All that is drawn with 3D pens can be manipulated and then hardened to desired 3D products. The products can be used as tangibles for a learning activity (Dousay & Weible, 2019), consequently enabling students to physically encounter and interact with abstract concepts (Ng & Ferrara, 2020; Trust & Maloy, 2017).
A sphere created to understand its abstract concept
Creativity consists of originality and task-appropriateness (Beghetto & Kaufman, 2013). Creativity is limited if students use 3D pens to merely trace and replicate models on pre-designed templates (Dousay & Weible, 2019; Trust & Maloy, 2017). This hinders students from having their own original ideas. Hence, it strongly matters how 3D pens complement the curriculum so that students do not work with premade manipulatives (Leinonen, Virnes, Hietala, & Brinck, 2020; Ng & Ferrara, 2020).
An example of drawing on a pre-designed template
A student’s 3D product may be highly original but if it is not within an appropriate subject context then it is deemed not creative (Beghetto & Kaufman, 2013). Although the making process should be open-ended to stimulate diverse strategies from students (Dousay & Weible, 2019), teachers need to help students stay within the academic guidelines while encouraging students’ own ideas (Beghetto & Kaufman, 2013). Therefore, creativity is evident when both originality and task-appropriateness are met.
Difficulty in manipulating the 3D pens was observed in the EDUC3620 tutorial. Yet, trial and error is encouraged as creativity often comes from working around mistakes (Dousay & Weible, 2019; Trust & Maloy, 2017). Convergent thinking can suppress creativity (Beghetto & Kaufman, 2013), so thinking-outside-the-box strategy needs to be encouraged to stimulate divergent thinking for creativity enhancement (Leinonen et al., 2020).
Students struggling with a 3D pen to form a 3D rectangular prism (Ng & Ferrara, 2020)
Most students in Dousay and Weible’s research (2019) struggled to complete on time as 3D pens are time-consuming devices. In the EDUC3620 tutorial, a lot of patience was required. Time management is imperative for teachers to consider (Ng & Ferrara, 2020). Another problem identified in the tutorial was that the tip of the 3D pens heat, which is hazardous for students. Safety guidance is mandatory to accommodate the activities. Overall, if limitations are considered, 3D pens allow students to think in creative and unscripted ways (Leinonen et al., 2020).
Using a 3D pen to construct a 3D model (Ng & Ferrara, 2020)
Beghetto, R. A., & Kaufman, J. C. (2013). Fundamentals of creativity. Educational Leadership, 70(5), 10-15.
Dousay, T. A., & Weible, J. L. (2019). Build-a-bug workshop: Designing a learning experience with emerging technology to foster creativity. TechTrends, 63(1), 41-52. doi:10.1007/s11528-018-0364-8
Leinonen, T., Virnes, M., Hietala, I., & Brinck, J. (2020). 3D printing in the wild: Adopting digital fabrication in elementary school education. International Journal of Art and Design Education, 39(3), 600-615. doi:10.1111/jade.12310
Ng, O., & Ferrara, F. (2020). Towards a materialist vision of ‘learning as making’: The case of 3D printing pens in school mathematics. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 18(5), 925-944. doi:10.1007/s10763-019-10000-9
Trust, T., & Maloy, R. W. (2017). Why 3D print? The 21st-century skills students develop while engaging in 3D printing projects. Computers in the Schools, 34(4), 253-266. doi:10.1080/07380569.2017.1384684