[Conner Woodruff | WOUB]

Coolville Elementary students set sail at summer STEM camp with the help of 3D printers

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COOLVILLE, Ohio (WOUB) — Using 3D printers, grade school students in Coolville are fabricating flat-bottom boats that will actually float.

As part of the Federal Hocking Schools’ summer learning series, Coolville Elementary students are getting hands-on STEM experience.

It’s a difficult program that puts math, science and art skills to the test.

“The learning curve is steep, and failure is OK,” Teo Marti, camp facilitator and Hocking STEM curriculum specialist, said. “Now you get the opportunity to do it differently and try a different way.”

This is the third week of the free camp and the second week of the portion with Marti’s STEM experiment.

Students start with a basic drawing of their design. Next they construct a prototype out of building blocks.

Students at Coolville Elementary School's Summer STEM Camp developing 3D models for 3D printing.
Students at Coolville Elementary School’s Summer STEM Camp developing 3D models for 3D printing. [Ahmed Hamed | WOUB]
Lastly, they rebuild their models using a 3D builder online, finally sending them to the 3D printers.

The printers take a while to do their job, taking up to 24 hours to produce their models. There are six units lining the back of the classroom.

The final test: Floating them down a small body of water in a plastic container to simulate a river.

The camp engages both students and teachers alike, with facilitators eager to see what the students create.

“I see the excitement, it energizes me as an administrator and a principal,” Coolville Elementary Principal Bruce Hoover said. “This is my 31st year in the business.”

These particular models, flat-bottom boats, have a place in Ohio’s history. As Marti mentioned, early Ohio settlers used these boats to develop business.

“We wanted to make sure it’s relevant to students in the area,” Marti said.

They even simulated what early settlers experienced, reusing materials until they’ve been worn down.

“Early settlers oftentimes reused things like nails and boards as much as they could,” Marti said, referring to another model of the boat made of popsicle sticks and paper.