Students at Salmo Elementary school are lining up at lunch recess with cardboard in hand these days. They are patiently waiting for their turn to try out the new Glowforge laser cutter, a new tool recently donated to the school from the School District 8 – Kootenay Lake’s Innovative Learning Department.

Case Manager and ADST Teacher Dave Dando has been guiding and helping students turn their creative ideas into actual objects such as jigsaw puzzles, guitars and signage for the school. “Their ideas are endless,” says Dando “And now with having access to it at the school, the kids are lining up everyday wanting to make stuff.”

Applied Design, Skills and Technology (ADST) curriculum was introduced into the BC Curriculum in mid-2016, and outlines the skills and steps needed in the design process: coming up with an idea, building it and sharing it.

This year the Innovative Learning department reached out to schools with the opportunity to acquire more hands-on ADST resources for use in the classroom. The department was able to give out an array of over 56 items, everything from LittleBits (STEM and Robotics kits), to Cublets (Robot block toys that use tactile coding to help builders explore robotics and coding), 3D printers and of course the Glowforge laser cutter!

The Glowforge is different from a 3D printer in that it uses subtractive manufacturing, and has the capabilities of carving back materials such as leather, wood, acrylic and cardboard using laser light. “We’ve been using cardboard, mostly pizza boxes, because then there is less waste,” says Dando. In contrast a 3D printer builds up the material layer by layer.

Aside from making actual 3D products, the Glowforge at Salmo Elementary is being used as a tool to introduce students to image search, image processing, and robotics instruction. It is also serving the need for effective diversion projects for struggling students that benefit from a little more flexibility or diversified instruction. The hands-on element is engaging and their involvement in the product design is building confidence.

“ADST curriculum builds on students’ natural curiosity and inventiveness,” says Vanessa Finnie, District Curriculum Support Teacher. “These toys and tools have the potential to harness the power of learning by doing, and provides the challenging fun that inspires students to dig deeper, work with big ideas and adapt to our changing world.” 

Professional looking classroom signs are popping up around the elementary school in Salmo, and everyone is on the hunt for more cardboard!

This story has been reproduced with permission from School District 8 (Kootenay Lake). The original posting can be found here.