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Jan, 2016 - 3D Printer at Big Cove Christian Academy
by Stefanie Green, 9th grade
Over the past three decades, technology has changed radically, and so has our school’s need to stay current in order to prepare students to compete in our high-tech society.
In April of last year, Jeff Green, the chair of the Big Cove Christian Academy board, presented a technology plan to the school board. He talked about the more important parts of the plan first, and included a 3D printer as part of the final phase. Soon after, he got a quote for the MakerBot Replicator Mini 3D printer, which turned out to be quite expensive. The school did not have money for the 3D printer, but Mr. Green left the matter in God’s hands. In October, BCCA was blessed with a 3D printer, but not in the way one might expect!
In 2013, Phillip Sherwood, a veteran Army Black Hawk pilot, and Mr. Green teamed up to develop and teach a computer programming unit to grades 7-9. The unit was taught using Arduino microcontrollers, and introduced students to many new concepts including digital electronics and robotics.
Tragedy struck on Saturday, October 24 of last year when Mr. Sherwood’s house burned. The fire started in his garage and within minutes it had penetrated the ceiling and spread throughout the whole roof. The house was a total loss. Everything was either burned up or soaked from the fire hoses. Mr. Sherwood owned a MakerBot Replicator 2, a bigger 3d printer than the one Mr. Green had hoped to buy. It survived the fire, but was soaking wet and covered with debris. Parts of it had already begun to rust. It rained for the next three days, and everything in the house, including the MakerBot, got soaked again.
A few days later, Mr. Sherwood called Mr. Green to tell him that he wanted to donate his MakerBot to the school. It was far from prime condition, and Mr. Green wasn’t sure he wanted it. But he accepted the MakerBot, even though it was unlikely that it would ever be up and running again.
The next Sunday, Mr. Green began to tear the MakerBot apart. He saw that the electronic circuit boards were untouched by the elements. Two of the motors had gotten wet and were frozen with rust. They had to be knocked apart with a hammer, scrubbed with steel wool, and reassembled. But by God’s grace, a lot of hard work, and plenty of WD-40, Big Cove Christian Academy now has a working 3D printer!
So far, our MakerBot has created many cool things including a replica of a human inner ear, a model of a human heart, an elephant with moving legs, race cars, a rabbit and much more. Students have downloaded models and printed them, but will also be able to design their own models.