KMS and KU students team up to make creations with a twenty-first century technology skill, 3D printing

Photos courtesy of Kristina Kopfer Hannah Sanders, 14, and Dr. Fountain working with 123D Design.
Photos courtesy of Kristina Kopfer Caitlin Moyer, 13, with the first 3-D Printed Object, a personalized pendant, on KU's campus.

Eight Kutztown Middle School (KMS) students from Adventures in the Land of Art partnered with eight Kutztown University (KU) students in their Designing for Disabilities class and learned how to use the design program, 123D Design, to create 3D Printed objects. Brainchild Dr. Heather L. R. Fountain from Kutztown University’s Art Education and Crafts Department and KMS Art Teacher, Ms. Kris Tuerk provide a place for middle school and college students to collaborate, learn about, and use twenty-first century technology together.

KMS students met with the KU students twice - the first day students were taught by Dr. Fountain how to use 123D Design and had to utilize their design skills to create a 3D object. During the creation, students had to use their thinking skills to make sure that the object was well designed from all angles, whether it be a bird’s eye view, side view, or from underneath. Then, each creation was printed using the 3D printer.

3D printing is becoming popular in the art and design fields as well as the medical field. It is an additive process in which layer upon layer of material is built up until the object is complete. Various materials can be used for 3D printing including plastic (biodegradable or recyclable, which the students used), wood, sand, ceramic, or nylon to name a few. Artists are using it to create models, and medical practitioners are using it to create organs, as well as limbs for amputees. This group is the first group of students to 3D print at KU. Dr. Fountain exclaimed, “It’s really exciting because it’s the first time that we’ve 3-D printed at Kutztown EVER! It was great to partner with the middle school for this experience.” Caitlin Moyer, 13, was the first student to print her own design. She said that learning the entire process was “a really fun experience. It’s amazing to come here and design things on my own to eventually be printed.”

Adventures in the Land of Art is Ms. Tuerk’s after school art program that allows for students to explore art beyond the classroom. Designing for Disabilities is a course taught by Dr. Fountain for Art Education students to gain experience in learning disability etiquette and to learn the importance of design in helping individuals access the world physically, emotionally, and educationally.

Seeing the middle school and college minds working and learning together is an amazing experience because they are coming together from different knowledge bases and are able to collaborate and collectively create something together. Jacob Turko, 13, enjoyed working with the college students to create art stating, “This was a creative way to interpret art, rather than using traditional media like a pencil or paintbrush. It was fun to work with other people than the peers you know.”

Watching the relationships being built and the connections being made creates success, whether it be the college student teaching the middle school student about technology or vice versa. Chad Hopkins-Renninger, 14, worked with Lindsay Cortellini, 21. They both said it was a fun, new experience. Cortellini said that, “Chad actually taught me some steps – he’s very tech savvy.” Whether this was a student’s first time working with technology in this way or not, learning this type of art was seen throughout the entire computer lab. Making a valid point, Kylie Balthaser, 14, said, “It’s a different type of art, and a different way to express your creativity. It’s not just hand work, it’s a virtual-type world.” This world will continue to inspire young minds to think in new ways and create inventions that will help us improve the future.