George Lesnansky hasn’t even unpacked all the cool gadgets Brookfield schools received through a grant from the Arconic Foundation, but teachers are starting to be trained in their use.
Lesnansky, the computer technology teacher, said on Dec. 18 that he wanted the teachers to think about ways the equipment can be incorporated into their lesson plans, and the ideas are starting to form.
“The possibilities are endless,” said Jim Haywood, who teaches entrepreneurship.
Haywood already has spent more time in the district’s maker space than most teachers, and last year he had students create Christmas ornaments to sell and raise money for prom.
As he learned about a new three-dimensional printer – one that has the capacity to make more complicated and better-built items than the three other 3D printers the school already has – a three-dimensional scanner and a laser cutter and engraver, Haywood said that for kids who need to keep their hands busy, “This is gonna be huge. They’re really gonna learn from it.”
Teachers also can use the equipment to make teaching aids. When Lesnansky showed Ken Iser, who teaches history, a hand-held topographical map of the United States that he had printed with a 3D printer, Iser lit up. Students learn so much better from something they can hold than from a textbook, he said.
“The map thing alone is priceless,” Iser said, adding that he would like to create models of the brain.
Joe Meyer said he could see students in his eighth-grade business class building the products that they would have to work toward bringing to market as part of his class.
“The best thing you can hear in here is ‘What if?’” Lesnansky said.
Dane Trosterud of Buckeye Educational Systems, Lexington, Ohio, provided the training, and the audience included Madison schools’ representatives, Brookfield’s technology consultants.
Lesnansky has had some students working with the new 3D printer. He showed them a video on how to build a fox, and then let them design and print one.
The ears of the first three printed are shaped differently, and one toppled because its tail is too big.
“They’re supposed to look alike,” Lesnansky said, but added that different operators approach projects in different ways.
“It’s not always about the end result,” he said. “It’s about the process.”
Training will go on into the new year, and the equipment probably will not be fully used until next year, when officials will attempt to tinker with schedules so all students can spend some time with it, he said.