Last week, we were excited to announce that our Polar Cloud passed 100,000 prints! We found out who the lucky printer was, and after sending them a whopping 6 kilos of filament as a surprise thank you, we thought we'd get to know them a bit! So here's our interview with the 100,000th printer: Katie Donlin, a STEM Teacher at Byron Middle School, in Byron, MN. 


Katie, what do you and your students enjoy most about having the Polar 3D Printer? 

Having a 3D printer in our school has been awesome. At first, students are just excited to see it printing and curious about the process. But then, when they get to design and then watch their creations come to life, it really provides them an unforgettable learning experience. We started out with two Polar 3D Printers last year, being fortunate enough to have one funded through DonorsChoose. We decided to go with Polar 3D because of it’s affordability, customer support visibility, impressive cloud community, and unique design. The students love watching it print in class and then seeing time-lapses of the prints online. 

What are some of the coolest things you’ve printed? Any great 3D printing stories?

Our middle school students have designed some pretty impressive objects. We have printed student-designed phone cases, custom keychains, iPad stands, and incorporated in other class projects including a Science cell organelle model and Industrial Tech CO2 car printed. Many students have said that it feels almost therapeutic watching the Polar 3D printers printing. One 6th grade student feels so strongly about this that he decided to make them the center of his Genius Hour project - providing students the opportunity to watch time-lapse prints in their free time. A School 3D Print Cam. That was an unexpected learning opportunity created by having the Polar 3D printers in our classroom.

That is so great! We think it's pretty therapeutic watching the prints too. How do you integrate the printer into your classroom experience or teaching lessons?

So many students want the opportunity to use the 3D printers in class. So, this year, we decided to create a semester long elective class called 3D Design. This class is centered on designing and then printing. So far it has been a great experience for the 7th grade students in the course. The printers allow us to have a 3D Printed School Store, in which the students in class are able to design, print, and then operate the school store. This type of learning has empowered students and given them an entrepreneurial learning opportunity. The class will also spend time going through the various design challenges on the Polar 3D Cloud such as the Ornament and Home Fix It Challenges. 

Oh my gosh, we love seeing students get entrepreneurial with 3D Printing! So, why do you teach in STEM education? What inspires you to pursue STEM with your students?

Students in the 21st century have so many new challenges to face both now and in the future. One thing I like to tell my students is the statistic (according to New York Times) that 65% of the jobs they will have don’t even exist yet, and many of those will be in the STEM fields. I love teaching STEM because it allows students the opportunity to innovate, problem-solve, and think critically in a variety of ways. It’s important that students learn how to collaborate together to work through challenges. I enjoy seeing the creativity that each new class brings to various design challenges. Incorporating technology, like robotics and 3D printing only add to this level of empowerment in students. I strive to see that students feel true ownership in their work and authenticity in their projects. Another personal goal of mine is to inspire new female students to push past the stereotypes of technical fields. Having a 3D printer has helped a lot with this goal, because the students are able to print projects that excite them and fit with the other things that they are passionate about.

Wow, we couldn't agree more — collaboration, innovation, and problem-solving are the biggest things we hope students learn when using our products! Okay, last question, how does 3D Printing help your students learn STEM principles?

3D Printing allows students to work through the engineering design process in the most authentic sense possible. One of the steps of the design process is the creation phase. Students can literally take an idea they have brainstormed and then create and print the prototype. Printing also allows students to see the importance of planning and evaluating their designs. They can physically see what works, and what doesn’t - then go back and modify their designs.

Isn't Katie awesome?! We're so excited her and her students were the lucky 100,000th printer! We can't wait to see what her smart and entrepreneurial students create with all that filament! 

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