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More schools using 3D printing technology in classrooms

More schools are bringing 3D printing technology into their classrooms. With the number growing in the last two years, one supplier estimates that there are around 20 schools in Singapore with 3D printers.

SINGAPORE: More schools are bringing 3D printing technology into their classrooms.

With the number growing in the last two years, one supplier estimates that there are around 20 schools in Singapore with 3D printers.

The idea of using 3D printers in class is no longer uncommon.

Ngee Ann Secondary School bought such a printer in August last year for about S$2,900.

Vincent Tang, senior teacher (Design & Technology) at Ngee Ann Secondary School, said: "With this technology, we are able to excite the students more and when they are excited, they are also interested in the subject. With that, we've observed that they've come up with better designs.

“Once we get them excited about Design & Technology and the designing part, they get very carried away, and they will continue to improve and refine their design."

The printer has exposed students to new technology.

Mohamed Kasshif Mohamed Riaz, a Ngee Ann Secondary School student, said: “Technology is always progressive. I get to see new technology and I can experience it first-hand before students of other schools experience it.”

It has helped them polish their design and creative-thinking skills.

Another Ngee Ann Secondary School student, Brena Cheong, said: "I actually want to print out accessories, because it's easy to make -- and... they don't take much time."

Aside from using the 3D printer to help students in their work, teachers have also used the printer for other things.

For example, they have made souvenirs which they gave out last year during the school's open house. They included a key chain, a ring and a whistle.

The teachers are planning to train their counterparts from other schools to use the printer and to introduce it to their students.

Anthony Ong, director of A-Main Objectives, which is a supplier of 3D printers, said: “The reason why 3D printers have been used frequently of late is due to the release of patents of fuse deposition manufacturing, the expiring of patents in 2013. That makes 3D printers very affordable for the mass market.“

New Town Secondary School is another school that has just started to tap the 3D printing technology.

It bought a 3D printer in December 2013 for about S$7,000, and plans to use it in class in April this year.

Alfred Goh, head of department (Craft & Technology) at New Town Secondary School, said: "We can tell our students that firstly, this is a privilege and not all schools have it."

He added that the school expects the students to make full use of it and to enrich their own learning.

At the same time, the school has set other goals for the printer, including opening it up to non-Normal (Technical) students and teachers in other departments.

Mr Goh said: "Teachers can print out the oxygen molecule and the carbon molecule, and... put them together to form the carbon monoxide molecule. I think it would be a great visual aid for students who are visual or kinaesthetic learners."

And like the unlimited possibilities of 3D printing, schools hope the technology can spur students to think out of the box.  

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