BETHEL — Last Thursday students of the Telstar Middle School eighth grade did an hour-long demonstration on 3D printing and the websites they use to create their designs.

The students use “Tinkercad,” a free online 3D design program, to create what they wish. The program offers myriad objects, items and designs for people to choose from. Drag cars, cameras and rockets were some of the creations students showed to visitors. About 10 people viewed the different demonstrations students were doing.

The lone object printed on the night was a barn, which took 16 minutes to print.

Eighth grade science teacher Pete Heddon was glad to see his students working with this kind of technology.

“It’s just helpful, I think to learn how to use the computer in a way that’s different than playing a game or social media,” Heddon said. “You’re actually creating something and you’re putting in inputs and it’s showing you something, you’re moving and creating things.”

Heddon also thinks it’s an advantage for students who may be interested in engineering later on.

“I think that in order to move forward in any engineering componentry, for anybody, they have to be able to use computer-aided design — it’s a requirement,” Heddon said. “You can’t move forward in this day and age without using a computer to help you engineer things. Being exposed to three dimensional design is only going to help any kid who wants to do anything engineering wise.”

The school received the printer last January, and Heddon said he and last year’s eighth graders worked with it in the spring.

Other objects printed include wheels. Heddon also said that last year he kept having thermometers break, so he had students print thermometer holders.

Heddon said he encourages his students to use the printer for practical purposes, creating something that will help solve a problem or prove to be usable.

He said last year he had students make gifts for Mother’s Day.

Heddon said he allows his students to have one “goofy” print that does not have to serve any purpose.

Telstar will receive a second 3D printer, for the high school, next year.

“It’s a great thing for the kids that are leaving eighth grade are going to go into the high school and still have access to a 3D printer,” Heddon said. “It will help them be more creative and continue some of the stuff they’ve already learned.”

Heddon is in his second stint at Telstar. He taught at the school for three years, and then at Gould for 11, before returning to Telstar in the fall of 2017.

Heddon said there could potentially be another demonstration on the printer in January, but there is no set date yet.

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