LILESVILLE — High school students presented on 21st century technology — 3-D printers purchased in part by the Wadesboro Rotary Club — during the club’s meeting on March 23.
The group, representing the Youth Career-Connect initiative at Anson High School, passed out samples of its printed products, including Rotary medallions.
Alisha Privette, a science teacher, Daniel Burrows, a history teacher, Richie Price, a math teacher and Steffany Labree, an engineering teacher, all spoke on the benefit of the printers for their classrooms.
Larry Smith, Kurt McCormick, Destiny Robinson and Sa’sha Mayse, all sophomore engineering students, Madeleine Thomas, a sophomore biomedical science student, Gabby Crowder and Timothy Marshall, sophomore IT students and Nasir Bellamy, a junior engineering student and engineering lab intern, all talked to the club about how they’ve used the printers to further their learning. My Vue, a junior IT student, videoed the presentation for the school.
Rotary member John Witherspoon began the program by recalling that his grandparents’ primary form of transportation was by horse. He marveled at the rapid progression of transportation that has brought society from the era of typewriters, newsreels and mimeograph machines to 3-D printing.
“Time marches on,” he said. “But today, it seems like it’s on an all-out dash.”
McCormick, an engineering student, told the club about the students’ use of the machines to print keychains to sell on the school’s website.
“We want to take advantage of this opportunity and advance our entrepreneurial skills,” he said.
Thomas said she was excited about the possibilities 3-D printing brings to the medical world. She said that millions of people around the globe need new limbs, and that it can take months to make them with traditional methods — but mere days using a 3-D printer.
Robinson added that the printers allow students to design examples of bio molecules.
The printers have not only allowed the students to build entrepreneurial skills through designing, printing and selling keychains, according to Labree, but have also benefited the robotics team.
The students have seven printers, including different models that can print objects of different sizes. The objects can be embedded with Kevlar, carbon fiber and other materials to boost the strength of the finished products.
With that in mind, the students designed and printed gears for the robotics team’s robot. This year, the robot had to have the ability to climb a rope. The robot fed rope through gears created by the 3-D printer.
“The gears took four days to print,” Labree said. “We made them solid to be strong. We were constantly printing for four days.”
Labree said she uploaded the design to an online program to see how much it would cost to buy the gears, and said the club saved a substantial amount of the $4,800 it would cost to buy one printed elsewhere.
The keychains that the students sell for $5 would cost $15 at the market rate, she added.
Next year, Labree hopes her students will have acquired the skills to broaden the scope of their printing so that they can offer printing services to the community. Students would be able to design the product and create a 3-D model and prototype.
The seven printers were purchased through a grant from Rotary International District 7680 and matching funds from the Anson County school district, according to a release from the Rotary Club, which added that Witherspoon was key to getting the grant.
“We want students from Anson County to be competitive, in the marketplace or in getting into the right college programs,” Elaine Clodfelter, president of the club, said in the release. “This investment, and others we have made in our schools and our students, will make a difference.”
The Wadesboro Rotary Club meets at noon each Thursday at Welika Fish Camp in Lilesville.
Reach reporter Imari Scarbrough at 704-994-5471 and follow her on Twitter @ImariScarbrough.