Students from eight primary schools in Melbourne's west recently came together in Williamstown to celebrate and show off their achievements in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and the application of 3D printing technology, after completing the Makers Empire 3D Printing in Schools project.
Makers Empire has developed a software program designed specifically for primary school students that allows them to bring STEM projects to life in 3D.
The 3D Printing in Schools project provided students with the opportunity to develop STEM skills in a fun and engaging way, while also teaching life-long skills in design and critical thinking, as well as gaining relevant technology expertise.
Mr Sean Gales, a teacher at Jackson School, said it was great to see the student's creative designs come to life over the course of the project, with a personal favourite of his being a scarecrow with a pesticide cannon.
"It was great to see students collaborating, socialising and working together to produce creative designs while also improving their critical thinking skills and spatial awareness," Mr Gales said.
"The project was really beneficial for the students' holistic understanding of the design process, and learning how to break the process down into manageable steps to make the project more achievable.
"I was delighted to watch my students learn and develop their STEM skills over the two terms, and I was incredibly proud to see all of the students from Jackson School win a prize of a brand-new 3D printer," he said.
Funding for the project was provided by a $60,000 Toyota Community Trust grant that enabled two teachers from each of the eight schools in Melbourne's western suburbs to complete Makers Empire's 'Learning by Design' course.
Each school also received three 3D printers and access to Makers Empire's 3D design tools, curriculum and teaching resources for all teachers and students for three years.
After undertaking the Makers Empire course, the participating teachers were then required to plan, teach, evaluate and document a unit of work incorporating 3D technologies in STEM learning.
The schools showcasing their students' work included Jackson School, St Alban's Heights Primary School, St Margaret's Primary School, Exford Primary School, St Therese's Primary School, Westgrove Primary School and Williamstown Primary School.
Among the projects undertaken by the students were innovative solutions to gardening problems and Christmas decorations, created by the children at St Therese's, that were then sold, helping to raise $3500 for an African charity in Ghana.
Toyota Community Trust chairman Mike Rausa said Toyota was proud to partner with Makers Empire and support an initiative that engaged students' imaginations, while also applying design thinking and education in advanced technology, to produce real-world solutions to problems.
"At Toyota we're passionate about championing the next generation of STEM talent and we were very pleased to see such a broad range of imaginative creations that solved problems, from how to re-seal a cereal packet to stopping a leaking hose," Mr Rausa said.
The grant for the project was awarded in line with Toyota Australia's commitment to encourage and inspire young people in Melbourne's west to pursue further study and careers in STEM subjects.
About the Toyota Community Trust
The Toyota Community Trust was created by Toyota Australia in October of 2017 to honour the legacy of its proud history of local manufacturing in Australia.
Initiated through a $32 million endowment, the Trust aims to encourage young people in Melbourne's West to pursue further study and careers in STEM. The program has now been extended to include projects located in Western Sydney and Albury-Wodonga.
Read more about the Toyota Community Trust here.