YouthQuest provided the equipment, curriculum and training for teachers to introduce at-risk kids to the magic of 3D printing as part of a six-week summer enrichment program at Portsmouth Catholic Regional School.
It was the first time we’ve worked with Horizons Hampton Roads, which serves young people in Virginia’s Tidewater region.
We are grateful to FEDAC’s Jack Lyons for connecting us with Horizons. A longtime member of the AOC Solutions family, Jack knew about YouthQuest’s 3D ThinkLink Initiative and met some of our advanced students during the Foundation’s 10th anniversary celebration last October.
When Jack’s sister, Elaine Lyons, became Program Director of Horizons Hampton Roads in December, he recognized the potential for a partnership. He suggested that she talk to YouthQuest Co-Founder and President Lynda Mann.
Within a matter of weeks, they reached an agreement to bring 3D ThinkLink classes to HHR.
The students and staff were excited about the experience.
Classroom aide Breanna Fair, who admitted she wasn’t enthusiastic about the idea during teacher training, had a change of heart soon after classes began.
“It was priceless,” to see the children’s reactions as they watched 3D printers turn their ideas into reality, she recalled. “You couldn’t ask for better.”
“It keeps them thinking over the summer,” she added. Learning to use Moment of Inspiration 3D design software helped strengthen the students’ math, planning and problem solving skills.
Cassidy Parish, 12, said she learned that it’s OK to make mistakes because you can always change a 3D design to make it better, then print it again. She also enjoyed the hands-on nature of the classes.
“I got to print my own things that I could design and build and use for myself,” explained Cassidy, whose 3D creations included a replica of the Goblet of Fire from Harry Potter and a Star Wars Death Star ID tag for her dog, Leia.
“If I got the chance, I would like to go help other students learn 3D printing,” Cassidy said.
Eleni Fafoutis, a high school intern who worked with the class, thinks the experience will encourage the kids to consider careers on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).
“One student told me he wants to build rovers for NASA,” said Eleni. “I said you can. You’re working with a real CAD (Computer Aided Design) program and those rocket scientists use similar things.”
That aspiring NASA engineer, 12-year-old Corey Wells, said our classes helped him learn to solve problems and be creative.
“I think it was great that they allowed us to do this because many kids don’t get this opportunity and I’m thankful,” he said.
Corey, Cassidy and the other students from our first class at Horizons Hampton Roads entered 7th grade a few weeks ago equipped with new skills and confidence, thanks to YouthQuest’s 3D ThinkLink Initiative.