Catholic schools in the Baltimore archdiocese are increasing learning opportunities through the use of new technology, including a focus on 3-D printing.
The St. Philip Neri School in Linthicum is making use of 3-D printers as part of their unit on communities. The machines are being used by third grade students at the school to make 3-D models of their visions for a table-top city the class is creating. Soon, students in the rest of the Archdiocese of Baltimore's schools will also have access to the printing technologies.
Barbara Edmondson, superintendent of schools for the archdiocese, said the community project being conducted is an example of how 3-D printers are pushing learning forward. Before, students would have created shoe box dioramas, but today the printers are allowing students to use math and problem-solving skills in order to design buildings and vehicles, and to create 3-D models that will then be painted by the students in art class. "These are truly 21st-century skills," she said.
According to Archbishop of Baltimore William E. Lori, all 48 of the Archdiocese's schools will receive a 3-D printer in addition to lesson plans to help students make the most of the machines throughout their classes. The first phase of the program will begin this week, with 13 schools receiving the new printers.
Lori went on to say that the printers would help students prepare for the workforce and become leaders, a declared mission of the school, writes Pamela Wood for The Baltimore Sun.
Phil Lathroum, who teaches technology and music, said the printers help to increase students' interest in technology and engineering.
"They're just absolutely awestruck that something they've created on screen on the computer can now become a physical object that they can touch with their hands," said Lathroum.
St. Philip Neri eighth-grade student Carla Vega-Diaz said she was interested in how the 3-D printers are being used in the medical field for casts, braces and prosthetics. In addition, she enjoys knowing that she is using the same equipment that is being used by astronauts on the International Space Station.
A capital campaign that raised $150 million will help to pay for the new machines, which are estimated to cost about $250,000. About one-third of the campaign funds are reserved for church schools.
Catholic schools are not the only ones to be considering the purchase of new technology to enhance student learning. Anne Arundel County's public schools currently has 12 of the machines and are working to purchase more.