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38 Professionally Speaking | December 2016 Students in David Del Gobbo's class use 3D printing to create a replacement handle for a pair of scissors. Problem-solving with 3D printing David Del Gobbo, OCT, was on a mis- sion to engage and inspire his Grade 9 Special Education students at Stephen Lewis Secondary School in Mississauga. To that end, he introduced a tough activ- ity for the teens: take a real-world prob- lem and solve it through 3D printing. The students were asked to tackle a straightforward challenge presented by classmates, such as create a replacement handle for a pair of scissors. They had to research the matter, brainstorm ideas and evaluate each other's progress as they designed their solutions. Along the way, they learned to use free 3D design software: Tinkercad (tinkercad.com, see p. 18 for more) and 123D Design (123dapp.com), both by software company Autodesk. "All of the items created had to be designed almost completely from scratch," Del Gobbo says. "One of the temptations with 3D printing is to simply reprint other people's designs." Once the designs were peer-reviewed and modified based on feedback, the students were given the chance to make their work truly real using a 3D printer. The project was enriching. The students honed their research, critical- thinking and problem-solving skills. They also improved their math skills, since they had to make precise meas- urements to design their objects. And they learned the importance of assess- ment and improvement. "Sometimes the physical act of handling their object brings up more issues for them to solve," Del Gobbo says. "A certain edge might be too sharp or a certain part may be too small in a certain dimension. So they often make additional tweaks and print out another version." The project brought education into the realm of reality. As Del Gobbo put it, "The sheer satisfaction that students have when they see their object being printed, and eventually hold it in their hands, is immense. It's a huge incentive for them to persevere even when they hit roadblocks." As for the teacher, Del Gobbo proved the power of the practical. By giving students control over the problem-solving process, and by focusing their efforts on a real-world challenge, the teenagers worked more diligently than they would have on more abstract tasks. To check out his lesson plans go to docs.com/delgobbo.

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