Riverhead’s 3-D Printers Boost Learning

Riverhead’s 3-D Printers Boost Learning photo thumbnail85928
Across the Riverhead Central School District, educators are using 3-D printers in myriad ways to enhance the learning experience. 

At Riverhead Middle School, librarian Alyson Grossman innovates ways for teachers to supplement their lessons across the curricular spectrum with the use of the printer technology. When conducting a lesson on 18th-century inventions, for example, teachers gave their students visual representations by printing out items such as a steam engine train and a sewing machine. In science classrooms, students delved deeper into their anatomy lesson by examining 3-D printouts of a human skull and a strand of DNA.   

“Students enjoy learning from 3-D printouts,” said Grossman. “They are always encouraged to touch the items and ask questions.” 

The same is true at Pulaski Street School, where science teacher Kristen Realander expanded on lessons by printing fossils and cotton ball launchers to help her students practice measurement and the scientific method. The technology has also been used to print Aztec and Mayan artifacts, as well as arrowheads, for students to inspect as part of their social studies lessons.  

The technology is additionally benefiting students at the elementary level, where 3-D printers are employed for motivation and as a learning tool. 

“The printer provides added visuals, which spark discussions related to the lessons,” noted Amelia Estevez-Creedon, librarian at Riley Avenue and Aquebogue elementary schools. 

As reinforcement for one particular lesson, Estevez-Creedon printed out a skull that provoked dialogue about the Day of the Dead celebration. 

The 3-D objects also assist English as a New Language students. Recently, Estevez-Creedon printed items related to transportation to supplement lessons for those learning English with visuals. 

At the high school, the use of 3-D printers has been expanding to differentiate instruction and enhance student learning. 

“These machines are really opening students’ eyes to the science, technology, engineering, arts and math technology available to them at the high school,” said high school librarian Kim McGurk. 

Already this year, the 3-D printers have assisted high schoolers in teaching them about various careers, promoting out-of-the-box thinking and providing an opportunity to create one-of-a-kind objects. AP Biology students have printed artifacts to replicate those found in museums, while special education students have gotten a boost in their learning by having the printers assist their projects with tangible aids. Meteorology students have printed out different types of clouds, while art students created personalized signets to mark their ceramics projects. Ninth-graders studying ancient Greece printed 3-D objects to enhance their studies of Sparta and Athens. 

“It’s amazing to see how our students, teachers and administrators are using the district’s 3-D printers to boost student learning,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Aurelia Henriquez. “The printers are just one element of the district’s technology initiative that provides our students with 21st-century learning tools.”