Questacon initiative brings 3D printing to Australian school kids


46 students from three secondary schools from WA, the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria have been given a unique opportunity to experience the cutting-edge of design technology through a project delivered by Questacon.

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The National Science and Technology Centre initiative is one of a series of programmes supported under a three-year partnership between Questacon and Raytheon Australia and a key part of the delivery of the Government’s broader science agenda.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry and Science Karen Andrews said the Questacon project was instrumental in the development of Australia’s first ever national policy to secure the country’s skills base in STEM by providing students with “first-hand look at an emerging technology” that has the potential to revolutionise manufacturing.

“These informal learning opportunities are a vital part of the broader STEM policy we are developing to help secure a highly skilled workforce and cultivate the science literate society that is essential for Australia’s ongoing productivity and prosperity,” Mrs Andrews said in a press release.

“I commend schools right across Australia that are embracing 3D design and printing in classrooms – I was recently at Ironside State School in St Lucia, Queensland, and was amazed by the 3D printers the kids were using every day to complement their STEM based subjects.”

The students were provided with bodies with snap-in sockets and a blueprint ball-joint design to build upon, and then proceeded to create heads, arms, legs and even wings for the body to create figurines in 3D.

“Along with valuable practical experience, students have honed their problem solving and design thinking skills. These skills are in high demand by employers across a range of industries and will underpin the jobs of the future,” Mrs Andrews said.

Through this facility, more than 13,000 students nationally have been able to expand their learning within science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines, such as manufacturing.

“Additive manufacturing, including 3D design and printing, is revolutionising manufacturing across many industries worldwide. This project has given students an insight and hopefully motivated them to find out more about the increasing application of this technology and potential careers on offer,” Questacon’s Director of Science and Learning, Dr Stuart Kohlhagen said.

“These students have had the opportunity to explore design, engineering and modern manufacturing techniques. They’ve gained practical skills and experience in computer-aided design and manufacturing, measurement, geometry and communication. Importantly, they’ve also experienced the process of innovation; that the path of turning ideas into reality often requires perseverance and creative problem-solving. These are important skills—not only for life—but also foundation skills for careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).”