Innovation ACCELERATION Funds in Action: Evergreen High School is Transforming the Task with 3D Printers
Brent Olyowski had a vision for Transforming the Task in Physics. So he submitted his idea for an Innovation Fund and was awarded funds to purchase 2D and 3D printers. Brent's idea is the epitome of Transforming the Task. In Brent's own words, "In an effort to make physics fun and engaging, we want our students to design, build, then use those creations to perform physics experiments using 2D laser cutters and 3D printers."
Matt Cormier, Evergreen area principal, notes, "This will help prepare students for emerging careers that are going to be part of their future. The possibilities that are created seem limitless. Evergreen's teachers are so strong and Mr. O does amazing work and he is also planning to partner with some superstars in his building. He will have the support of an excellent digital teacher librarian and tech staff. This is a great team to make the investment powerful, however, everyone will be in awe of what the students create."
Making the innovation Come to Life in the Classroom
Brent was happy to share his plans to implement his 3D printers in the classroom. Here are some highlights from his Innovation Acceleration Fund application:
"First semester is about Newtonian Physics and we try to relate it to driving since almost all of our physics students are beginning drivers. The vision is the students design cars to perform simple experiments with. We would start with basics like velocity, acceleration, stopping distance, and inertia; and then get more complex with momentum, impulse, friction, collisions, energy transfer, and circuits. We can even convert the cars to solar cars near the end of the school year. The idea would be to modify their creations to make it more complex as we get into the more complex ideas. The evolution would go from cars they send down a ramp all the way to cars with solar powered with sensors on them. "
Building a Better Mousetrap
Brent's class got a write-up in the Canyon Courier for the amazing work they are doing.
Read an excerpt below:
"The final matchup in the Great Mousetrap Weightlifting Challenge at Evergreen High School. Five students — three from the physics class and two from the honors physics class — competed to see whose homemade car could pull the most weight up an incline. This is the first time the two classes have competed in the challenge, which has them use physics principles to design and build a vehicle that carries a load up an incline using only the energy stored in an unmodified mousetrap." This year, the physics classes had an extra weapon in their vehicle-building arsenal: 3D printers. Olyowski received Innovation Acceleration funds to buy 14 printers, so students used them to build wheels, axles, car bases and trays to hold the weights.
Brent says, "Once students design and build their vehicles, then it’s prototype week, which is essentially a week of testing to find ways to improve their vehicles. In Olyowski’s class, junior Donovan Schar-Davis said it was satisfying to make adjustments to his vehicle and watch it do a better job of going up the incline."
Continuing to Transform the Task...
Brent has big plans for continuing to explore the 3D printers in physics.
"In the future Evergreen students will design catapults and make the parts to launch something fun like M&M’s. This is a good way to study projectiles. You can design them to change angle and initial velocity. Gathering data and modeling projectile motion is a cool idea within the physics teacher world.
We would design and build instruments to study sound and wavelength. We could do things like Helmholtz resonators, whistles, flutes, xylophones, etc. We can calculate speed of sound using these. We can calculate frequency and wavelengths as well.
We would design and build wind turbines then use them to do Ohm’s law experiments. This would cover two topics, electricity and magnetism. We would test the best design for turbine blades.
These are just a few of the ideas. We even could build the sensors to test our creations with but baby steps to start with. As you can see, for almost every area of study we can create and build things we can then turn around and experiment with. We are confident that this hits at least 5 of the Generation Skills areas. It also fits in well with the NGSS standards as well. "