Arkansas students awarded for creatively using 3D printers

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BAXTER, Ark. (AP) — Representatives for a Fayetteville company that supplies 3D printers recently presented award checks to six Mountain Home students.

Mountain Home Junior High School student Will Beckham received two $1,000 awards for his EAST project, which won NWA3D's "3D Print It Up! Competition." Later that same day, a team of five EAST students at the Mountain Home High School received a $1,000 Kickstarter Campaign award for winning the "Ready? Print. PLAY!" competition sponsored by NWA3D and Start-Up Junkies, The Baxter Bulletin reported.

The winning high school team was comprised of Will Lauerman, a senior; Oden Smith, Tyler Sosnowski and Trey McFarland, all juniors; and Davis "Jake" Grant, a sophomore.

Both presentations were made by Drew Wallis, co-founder and director of education at NWA3D, and Carly Palmer, a NWA3D printer technician.

Beckham, a ninth-grade student in David Martin's EAST classroom, designed a clamp that could secure a J-hook deadbolt and be printed on a 3D printer. The idea for his project came to him after he noticed the newly installed deadbolt locks on classroom doors — meant to lock the classroom from the inside in case of emergency — kept getting caught on the doors. The clamp, which went through four designs, safely harbors the deadbolt when it is not in use.

The high school team won its award for "Code Your Boat," an electronic board game made from a combination of microcontrollers, actuators and 3D printed parts with an acrylic base. The game was designed with the purpose of helping teach younger children learn coding.

In the game, players compete to unlock five gates to clear a path to the finish line for their boat, which is made on a 3D printer. Each gate the player unlocks adds a function to the game, such as sound or lights. To unlock a gate, players must choose a gate and answer a series of questions. If answered correctly, the gate will open for the player, allowing them to move forward. If a question is answered incorrectly, the player suffers a time penalty, preventing them from attempting to unlock another gate for a set amount of time. Questions are multiple choice and are answered using buttons connected to the player's controller.

Beckham's dual $1,000 awards came in two checks — one for Beckham personally and the other to be donated to a cause of his choice, which he gave to Martin's EAST classroom. Beckham's donated award money will be used to establish a 3D printing center in the EAST classroom, Martin said.

The high school team's $1,000 award will be used to further develop the Code Your Boat's game design, East facilitator Danielle Pugsley said. The game's development will continue as an EAST project next school year, with more students being brought in to develop and refine the game further.

EAST is an acronym that stands for "Education Accelerated by Service and Technology." The EAST Initiative is an educational program offered in Mountain Home Schools since 2012, it allows students to become familiar with current technology to help their school or community.


Information from: The Baxter Bulletin,

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