Spatial Thinkers Will Literally Help Re-MAKE the World

written by: Dr. Tony McCaffrey

3D Design in the Classroom
When a spatially-gifted student encounters 3D design software for the first time, it can be life-changing. They have finally found a tool that can keep up to what they can do with their own minds. This probably has never happened to them before. To them, the formation and rotation of complex shapes is natural; but they have never had an outlet to demonstrate this skill—let alone build upon it. It is exciting to see a student find a tool that can match what their minds can do. I am sure I am training students who will turn 3D design into a career and design amazing things in the near future.
In my most recent book, Infinite Learning Diversity: Uncovering the Hidden Talents of Our Students (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019), almost all of the hidden talents showcased in the book were spatial. Traditional schooling mostly exercises verbal and written skills, math skills, reasoning skills, and memory skills. Spatial skills are rarely touched upon, so a student with an exceptional ability to imagine a complex object and manipulate it might never have an occasion to show off this ability. This is where 3D design software comes in.
The Future of the Maker Movement
3D design software and 3D printers are an important part of the overall Maker Movement, which is allowing people to re-MAKE the world.
The Maker Movement is quickly spreading to all fields that deal with physical objects. People are 3D printing in frosting to create elaborate decorations for cakes. Shoes and clothing are being 3D designed and printed. In the medical field: kneecaps for surgical implants, casts, wrist braces, and prosthetics. Medical research labs currently are experimenting with 3D printed human organs such as kidneys. 3D design is not just for engineers and architects anymore.
What is common to all these diverse applications is the ability to use a professional level 3D design software, such as Fusion 360, which is taught here at Eagle HIll School. If a student is proficient in Fusion 360, in the near future, they may be 3D designing for any of the fields mentioned above. Or, they may be 3D designing for an as yet unimagined application that has not been thought up yet.
Eagle Hill Students on the Forefront
3D designers, Eagle Hill students among them, are beginning to re-MAKE the world in maker spaces and advanced manufacturing facilities around the world. More and more, the manufacturing process is becoming democratized, in that anyone with the skill can get access to the necessary manufacturing equipment. Any field that works with physical objects will benefit from this new generation of designers and innovators that are re-shaping and re-making our world. This revolution in manufacturing is just beginning and EHS students are poised to become part of the forefront of the many exciting directions that it will take. 

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Learning Diversity is a blog hosted by Eagle Hill School where educators, students, and other members of the LD community regularly contribute posts and critical essays about learning and living in spaces that privilege the inevitability of human diversity.

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