Asee peer logo

Evaluation of RepRap 3D Printer Workshops in K-12 STEM

Download Paper |


2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Evaluation: Technology and Tools for K-12 Engineering Education

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.696.1 - 26.696.18



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


John L. Irwin Michigan Technological University

visit author page

As Associate Professor for Mechanical Engineering Technology since 2006 at Michigan Technological University, Dr. Irwin teaches courses in Product Design & Development, FEA and CAE Applications, Parametric Modeling, and Computer Aided Manufacturing. Research interests include STEM education, where as PI for Improving Teacher Quality grants (2010 & 2013) he has developed and implemented professional development courses for K-12 science teachers to implement inquiry-based learning while utilizing computer simulations and 3D printing in their classrooms to help solve engineering problems.

visit author page

author page

Douglas E. Oppliger P.E. Michigan Technological University


Joshua M Pearce Department of Materials Science & Engineering and Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Michigan Technological University

visit author page

Joshua M. Pearce received his Ph.D. in Materials Engineering from the Pennsylvania State University. He then developed the first Sustainability program in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education as an assistant professor of Physics at Clarion University of Pennsylvania and helped develop the Applied Sustainability graduate engineering program while at Queen's University, Canada. He currently is an Associate Professor cross-appointed in the Department of Materials Science & Engineering and in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at the Michigan Technological University where he runs the Open Sustainability Technology Research Group. His research concentrates on the use of open source appropriate technology to find collaborative solutions to problems in sustainability and poverty reduction. His research spans areas of electronic device physics and materials engineering of solar photovoltaic cells, and RepRap 3-D printing, but also includes applied sustainability and energy policy. He is the author of the Open-Source Lab:How to Build Your Own Hardware and Reduce Research Costs.

visit author page

author page

Gerald Anzalone Michigan Technological University

Download Paper |


Evaluation of RepRap 3D Printer Workshops in K-12 STEMA survey distributed to attendees of 3D printer workshops provided for K-12 science,math and technology/pre-engineering teachers’ is intended to evaluate their ability toimplement Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in their classrooms using theirnewly acquired 3D printers. Participant perspectives following three separate 3D printerworkshops over the past two years are evaluated in this study.NGSS guidelines place an explicit emphasis on the relationship of engineering to sciencewhile it features a number of “Disciplinary Core Ideas” such as “Engineering,Technology, and Applications of Science”. The guidelines outline this as an iterativeprocess involving; defining the problem, developing possible solutions, and optimizingdesign solutions which are present at all grade levels at varying degrees of detail. Apotentially ideal tool for introducing the engineering problem solving process in STEMK-12 education is the RepRap 3D printer, claimed by its’ creators to be “humanity’s firstgeneral-purpose self-replicating manufacturing machine.”The RepRap Project has an open hardware design and relies only on a free and opensource software tool chain. The viral open licenses intend for users to improve on thedesign with each generation adding revisions to the hardware as well as softwarecapabilities. K-12 STEM teachers have a need to develop projects where studentsexperience real world examples for design, build, and test revealing tangible results.Current versions of the RepRap can be made for under $500 and can be used to prototypestudent projects in addition to fabricating its own replacement and upgraded parts.K-12 science and technology teachers have come together to embrace the open source 3Dprinting technology. Dual sponsoring from Square One Educational Network and GMoffered a 2013 summer Innovative Additive Manufacturing (IAM) workshop wheretwenty-four teachers, 12 groups of two, participated and after 4 days of building andtesting, each team of two left with a working MOST Prusa Mendel 3D printer. Theaffordability of this do-it-yourself design and open sourcing lends itself to the idea ofbuild and test because no warranties are being voided as students “tinker” with themechanics of the 3D printer. Having the teachers prepare to use the 3D printers in theirclasses by building them ensures the necessary technical competence and confidenceneeded to maintain the printers and allow more experimentation among their students.In the summer of 2014, another twenty K-12 STEM teachers participated in an IAMworkshop where in four days, again in groups of two, each participant left with a MOSTDelta RepRap 3D printer to use in their classroom. Finally, a group of twenty K-12science and math teachers attended a three day one credit graduate level course whereeach built a MOST Delta RepRap 3D printer. Following the workshops, manyparticipants have been active in an online forum developed to discuss 3D printing topics.Insights from the approximately seventy-five K-12 teachers will assist in evaluating theimplementation of their 3D printers in design, build, and test lessons in terms of studentlearning related to NGSS guidelines.

Irwin, J. L., & Oppliger, D. E., & Pearce, J. M., & Anzalone, G. (2015, June), Evaluation of RepRap 3D Printer Workshops in K-12 STEM Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24033

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2015 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015