Earlier this week, Dr. Yin, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, visited the 3D Lab to integrate student projects into tangible items created in the lab.  We met with Scott Gold to talk about model rockets, rollercoasters, and modeling shapes based from calculus formulas.  The latter is possible though the free online resource GeoGebra.  With GeoGebra, students can enter formulas then download STL files of shapes that are readily printable on a 3D printer.  We also discovered that Thingiverse has calculus and math related 3D objects & projects, many uploaded by teachers as class projects.

We also discussed model rockets, rollercoasters, and the calculations needed to build working prototypes.  3D printing a model rollercoaster to pilot ideas can take some time, however.  PaperRollercoasters.com makes coasters that are perfect for fast prototyping.  Simply print the shapes on a paper printer, fold them together, and you’ve got a sophisticated marble rollercoaster!  Using paper roller coasters with a class can be a fun way to teach the physics of energy and motion, as well as the importance of the engineering design process.  Thanks to Robin for the lead on this company!

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