3D Printing in History class

You wouldn’t be surprised to hear about a 3D printer being used in science class, but what about in history? As more schools gain access to this technology, history teachers are creating lesson plans that allow students a more creative and hands-on approach to exploring everything from ancient technology to dwellings of different cultures.

3D printing allows teachers to bring in objects or even architecture highlighting important topics in their lessons. Museums around the world including the Smithsonian are now scanning in real artifacts that students can interact with such as the Wright Flyer plane. Students used to photos in textbooks become excited and interested in 3D objects they can hold and examine. 3D printed buildings, memorials, or even villages encourage students to think about how people of varying cultures and time periods lived.

Another way to engage history students is by letting them participate in the design and 3D printing process. Individual or group projects let students pick their own focus and find what interests them the most. Students will collaborate and help each other problem solve as they learn how to design for 3D printing. Offering a choice for presentations between 3D printing, other model building, drawing, or painting lets students express their creativity no matter what their strengths.

In one classroom, students chose historical figures who were influential, but that did not have a monument or memorial built to honor them. Students sketched monuments showcasing their historical figure’s accomplishments. Then, they built the monument using 3D design software and a 3D printer. Through this project, students were able to study a topic in-depth and then teach others about their historical figure with the aid of their monument.

From class lecture aids to student-led projects, 3D printing brings new experiences and ways for students to interact with history beyond textbooks and traditional media. New ways to view history lead students to think more critically about events and people of the past, bringing greater understanding of how it all happened.