A WEST CORK school has won first prize for design in a nationwide 3D printing challenge, and will now go on to represent Ireland at a European level.
Students at Togher National School in Dunmanway were tasked with identifying something in their school or home that required fixing or improving.
Some suggestions — like a swimming pool — were a bit too ambitious, but one idea was to print somewhere to hold the school's ever-growing collection of locker keys.
Having identified the problem, the children had to sketch out possible solutions, make modifications and create prototypes using recycled materials.
They then used Computer Aided Design and Slicer software to get their design ready for 3D printing. Trial prints identified further modifications and redesigns before the finished item was 3D printed.
The designs were made on a 3D printer which was loaned to the school after two teachers attended a workshop funded by EIT-Manufacturing, and supported by Stryker and I-Form (University College Dublin) in Ireland; Arts et Metier Institute of Technology in France; and University of Tartu in Estonia.
As part of the course they learned the benefits of teaching children design principles. 'It was a fantastic course and I would recommend it to all teachers,' said principal Helen O'Connell.
'3D printing provides children with the ability to design and create their own unique objects. This helps foster their creativity and imagination in a fun way. 3D printing also exposes children to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and can inspire them to pursue careers in those areas in the future.'
Teacher Richard Swann said that 'design and manufacturing is a huge opportunity that should be embraced at primary school level. Design is a different way of thinking – it’s both arts and maths.'
The journey from conception to design and finally to production was recorded as a short video which was accessed by the judging panel from Stryker and I-Form, based in UCD.
For their winning design, the school has won a €1000 voucher, while children will be presented with individual vouchers in the near future.
They have also been invited to visit Stryker. Togher National School will now go forward to represent Ireland at a European level at the end of the month.
The video can now be viewed on the school blog at https://togher.edublogs.org/.