Castle Pines resident Taylor Tree created a personalized phone case for her iPhone using the new 3D printer at RHMS. A bust of Yoda was also created by technology teacher Tim Ryckman in order to show the students the tremendous capabilities of this latest technology.
Article and photo by Amy Shanahan
Rocky Heights Middle School (RHMS) is well known for being at the forefront of technology in the classroom. Two years ago, the school created a dedicated technology lab. In the lab, students in sixth through eighth grades become adept at using high-end software programs, and explore technology through various mediums.
When technology teacher Tim Ryckman designed the lab, he dedicated a shelf to showcasing various technologies that have been developed over the last thirty years. A manual typewriter sits alongside an 8-track tape player, a Walkman, and an early computer. At the end of the display resides Ryckman’s latest acquisition and the very latest in technology: a 3D printer. “This is such an exciting opportunity for our students,” remarked Ryckman. “They are learning to use a tool that is at the forefront of technology. 3D printing offers so much potential in so many fields including architecture, engineering, the medical field, and aerospace – it’s amazing!”
3D printers essentially build objects layer by layer based on a three-dimensional design. The students in the technology lab at RHMS use a product called Tinkercad to create their designs. Tinkercad is a computer aided design (CAD) program that is appropriate for middle school age students. Once their designs are created, they send them to the 3D printer, which then produces the design using layer upon layer of plastic which is emitted from long strands coiled around large spools.
Eighth grade student Taylor Tree was one of the first students to use the 3D printer. “I was really surprised when I first saw the printer – I didn’t know a printer could do what it does!” Tree exclaimed. Tree created a design of an iPhone case in Tinkercad, and then created it with the 3D printer. “It was kind of like Christmas when I saw my phone case being printed!”