Last year my school was fortunate enough to receive a grant that enabled us to make a series of purchases surrounding technology. One of the items I advised the schools to explore was the purchase of the UP Plus 2, a powerful, yet simple school friendly 3D Printer that is being used in classrooms all over the world.

So this brings me to today.

This morning while planning for my middle of the day practical PE Session with the year 5/6 students I noticed that my whistle was nowhere to be seen.  Now in smaller classes, I  don’t actually tend to use a whistle, however in this case the class had 45 students, so in my mind a whistle is matter of safety.  So I needed to find one and quick.

Almost immediately after realising I needed the whistle an amazing idea occurred to me….Why don’t I simply print myself a new whistle with the 3D Printer?

So with absolute excitement I jumped onto Thingiverse, a community dedicated to sharing and remixing 3D designs and models, which can be freely downloaded for instant printing. Upon a brief tour of the gallery I found the following design, downloaded the files, connected my computer to the 3D Printer and pressed PRINT.

See it in action in the video below.

To be honest, I’m still completely blown away with exactly how 3D printing works. Its a truly revolutionary technology that is already and will continue to completely change the world. Which gets me thinking about the role of 3D Printing in the Physical Education programs of the future.

Heres a couple of ways 3D printing will impact your PE program, based on things already happening in the world of 3D printing;

1. Equipment ordering  – This will happen online, however the fulfilment will be seemingly instant as your schools 3D printer begins to print your equipment. Everything from soccer balls, golf clubs, cones and shoes could be printed. (this is already happening). Think 3D printing is just reserved to plastic composites? Think again, they’re actually printing human cells, so your sports equipment will be a piece of cake.

2. Cost Saving – Going hand in hand with the above point, your budget of the future will be able to go much further as the cost to print your equipment is exclusive of any shipping or freight costs. To put this into context, the whistle I printed above cost a whopping total of 33 cents.

3.  Personalization PE Teachers will have the ability to make total customizations to the equipment they have in their schools. Have some smaller students who cant control the full sized cricket bat? Easy done, change the scale and print a smaller one. The Skys the limit.

4. No Minimum Order   No longer will you be bound to a minimum order for certain equipment. Need one left handed golf club, done. Print your equipment as needed, rather than just in case.

5. Student Inquiry – Teaching Theoretical concepts such as Biomechanics? Have students design their own equipment or 3D experiments in a tool such as Tinkercad. They then get to put their designs to the test and explore REAL hands on inquiry surrounding Biomechanics in action.

While the above may seem like fantasy, the reality is that this stuff is already possible. As 3D printing technology progresses, and the cost decreases, we’re going to see a myriad of game changing advancements across all spaces. I simply cannot wait.

How could you imagine using 3D printing in your school?