Penguins, Polar Bears, 3D Printers, and a Little Help from our 8th Grade Pals

As winter cloaked the world in its frosty embrace, a collaboration unfolded that would spark the imaginations of students far and wide. This story began with a playful partnership when 3Dux joined forces with dynamic STEM duo, Carly and Adam for their much-anticipated JOY of STEM Conference. Teachers who signed up for this professional development event were in for a special treat—3DuxDesign dispatched 100 STEM kits to educators across the states, igniting the spark of creativity and engineering in classrooms from coast to coast.

But what started as a 3Dux give-away gave us a gift too! And it came from our young engineer friends from Chris Woods' 8th grade Science class! 

Dubbed the"Penguin and Polar Bear Ski School" maker kits, these packages blended the enchanting world of literacy with a play-based, hands-on STEM project. The story began with a poem about two unlikely friends with a big dream: to open a ski resort. This narrative set the stage for students to dive deep into the design thinking process and engineering principles, challenging them to create a sustainable ski venue that could cater to an eclectic mix of furry and feathered guests. The project is filled with opportunities for students to include a variety of simple machines in the design.

The journey into STEM didn't stop at imagination and design; it was a hands-on, problem-solving quest. Feedback from educators was notable for the observation that the cardboard slopes for beginners, intermediates, and experts (our inclined plane project component) were prone to bending—a slight hiccup in the grand scheme of things. The students, undeterred, refined their designs to enhance the slopes' structural integrity. Yet, they couldn't help but wonder, could they take this a step further?

The plot thickened with the introduction of Mr. Chris Woods, the renowned author of DAILY STEM and the voice behind the STEM Everyday podcast. When Chris is not sharing his insights through podcasting or writing, he's guiding his 8th-grade students through the wonders of science and technology. Presented with the challenge, his students embarked on a mission to create 3D printed ramps that could withstand the test of time and physics. Using Tinkercad, they created a variety of designs, each addressing the dual challenges of slope and friction and allowing young students to investigate how these factors influence an object's speed. 

Their ingenuity led to ramps of varying lengths and textures, and mindful of the adventurous skiers, they incorporated safety features like side rails. After a cycle of prototyping and refinement, these young innovators generously shared their files, making it possible for any teacher with a 3D printer to bring these durable slopes to life in their own classrooms. And in the spirit of continuous improvement, we welcome further innovation—if your students devise an even better design, we're excited to share it with the broader community.

This heartwarming tale of collaboration, innovation, and education serves as a vivid reminder of the impact of bringing together passionate educators, curious students, and the boundless possibilities of real-world STEM. From cardboard to 3D-printed slopes, the journey from concept to creation embodies the essence of learning through doing. As we reflect on this adventure, we celebrate the teachers, students, and innovators who continue to push the boundaries of what's possible in education. Here's to more winters filled with the joy of discovery and the thrill of skiing down slopes of innovation.

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stem with friends remote playdates

3DuxDesign wants to help keep kids connected. let us host a STEM With Friends Remote Playdate. Send each friend a kit and we will schedule a free design/build activity for you  and 5-10 of your besties  

Contact marci@3duxdesign.com for details

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