For the past month I have been undertaking my own project-based learning. After a couple of months with STEM Punks, I wanted to make the logo - a robot - into earrings and keyrings to take with me to schools and events. I wanted show students how STEM can turn an idea into an amazing creation.
I first pictured the robots as 3D-printed pieces. I wrote down the shapes that would make up this robot, (semi-spheres, cubes, cylinders etc.) and got to work with a free 3D design tutorial on Tinkercad.
After learning how to 3D design, I was able to put the shapes together in a 3D space. I was excited to see my first ‘prototype’, and so I learned how to convert the model into a format compatible with the 3D Printer.
I made two robots into earrings and was quite ecstatic, however I found a couple of weak spots (including a runaway arm!) I went back to the design software and made a thinner, lighter, stronger version. As the arms and legs were connected and supported better, I was able to travel with the earrings and not worry about breakage.
At the same time, I read into laser cutting acrylics and wanted to try my hand at making a vector file. After a few weeks learning and some back-and-forth with a laser cutting company, I finally made some laser cut STEM Punks robots as earrings and keyrings!
This is what project-based learning is all about: having a project with an outcome you desire and setting yourself goals to learn everything you need to achieve that outcome. I learned how to 3D design, prototype, 3D print, create vector-files for laser engraving and cutting, paint and combine pieces into earrings and keyrings.
Technology is advancing so fast and to get from an idea to a real-life product at home or school is a process to be taken advantage of. With project-based learning, students can choose their own adventure with their education, and learn several STEM components to perfect and present their project.