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April 9, 2014

Area students experiment with 3-D printer

By Mark Boshnack Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — Students at Downsville Central School have recently been able to work with state-of-the-art technology, several of those involved said Tuesday.

School librarian Jane Walker-Lloyd was loaned a 3-D printer from March through June thanks to a program through the Delaware-Chenango-Madison-Otsego BOCES.

The printer was purchased through a Regional Bibliographic Database grant funded by the South Central Regional Library Council in Ithaca. The printer was first used at Afton Central School earlier this year, where Walker-Lloyd saw it in action and wanted it for her students.

The printer allows students to create objects they have designed, Walker-Lloyd said. It’s the same technology that is used by manufacturers to create prototypes before a production line is established. It also address the needs of the “do-it-yourself” culture, by giving students the opportunity to create something, she said.

Instead of taking designs from the Internet to build an object using a computer program and the printer, “I’ve tried to encourage students to create objects of their own designs,” she said.

The machine takes plastic filaments and creates objects by layering the plastic.

“It’s pretty exciting,” she said.

There has been a lot of trial and error, working mainly with the school’s Library Tech Club, an after-school activity she advises for students in grades 7-12. The printer is also used during study halls.

Tenth grader Will Towsley is the vice president of the tech club, and has been using the printer to fix a bike rack. He isn’t sure what he wants to do when he graduates, but the experience might influence his decision, he said.

“It’s a lot of fun,” he said.

Club President Brandon Mott is also in tenth grade. He said he’s still getting familiar with the software.

“I never realized you can do something like this,” he said. “It’s extremely exciting.”

BOCES School Library System Coordinator Susan LeBlanc said the printer is “a new way to engage students” both creatively and by introducing a new technology, and that it gives them skills they otherwise may not have. How the loan program develops will depend on the needs of the libraries and the districts they serve, she said. But from what she has seen, she said she’s optimistic for its future.