“To be honest, I wasn’t even thinking about becoming a teacher when I was young.” Hanna said wittily as we walked into her classroom. “It was the many intriguing conversations I had earlier with my own kids’ teachers that sparkled my passion to become an educator.” For Hanna, there’s nothing more exciting than guiding children to explore the real world with the assistance of technology. Currently she’s the primary instructor of multiple science-based optional courses and a well-known endorser of technology-enhanced learning in Espoo Christian School. She mentioned several times in our conversation that what the world needs at the moment are people equipped with technical, problem-solving and collaboration skills. To prepare students with those competencies from an early age is of great value.
Hanna’s first encounter with 3D printing occurred in 2013, back when she was leading a space research project called ISS at her school and later leading an international EU project known as Space for Science – Implementing Innovations in Science Education from 2014 to 2017. In the ISS project, coordinated by Valley Christian School of San Jose, CA and NanoRacks company, her students chose to create a device that is capable of growing fungus in space. Astonishingly, the fungus experiment designed by her students was onboard a rocket and sent three times to International Space Station, becoming the only European school experiment during 2014 to 2016.
One challenge that they faced was to 3D design and print certain components of the incubator. With zero experience in this field, Hanna was expecting some frustration in getting things done in a tight time schedule. On the contrary, the students who got acquainted with 3D printing surprised her by showing even more devotion and enthusiasm to the project. That was also when she spotted the power of 3D learning and decided to delve into this field.
Hanna concluded the project outcomes from the past three years with two words: ‘effective’ and ‘rewarding’. She shared with me a story of some students who did not excel at bookish study, but exhibited great talent in 3D designing and printing; one of them presented their work to some members from the Finnish Parliament. Hanna pointed out that in traditional textbook education, where there is always a level that should be reached, can easily wield a negative clout on students’ imagination and creativity. Sometimes what we need is a simple boost-up in students’ motivation. The employment of 3D technology can resolve this issue by carving out a space for students to create unique learning experiences which they will remember for a lifetime.
When being asked what prompted her to work with us, Hanna referred to our games’ unique combination of learning content and playing. “To introduce young children to the world of 3D is a real challenge all things considered; however, with the help of Bear the Baker game, my students could easily grasp the basic idea of 3D modeling and enhance their mathematical skills at the same time. Most importantly, the learning process can be iterated”. Besides, what made her even more thrilled was that the students’ in-class engagement has increased significantly, and she would definitely like to see us developing more 3D printing games.
When I was about to leave, I came across a poster hanging in Hanna’s classroom, which reads “Believe that the sky is not the limit”. Yes, as a company, 3DBear has been striving to be on the forefront of 3D learning because we believe in the power of technology in education and creativity of children. The world is changing faster than ever, and to be able to help children to get ready for the future is our deepest mission. We empower art, design, programming and creative expression through playful learning. What we would like to witness in future is that children will design and create their own toys. Whenever and wherever.
Written by Junyi Sun, Educational Trainee at 3DBear