Owensboro Innovation Academy student Kayla Davidson, 14, left, looks over a 3D-printed backpack tag with engineering facilitator Stephanie Gray on Thursday while standing at the 3D printers at the school.

Owensboro Innovation Academy Engineering Facilitator Stephanie Gray developed a way this year for her students to learn more effectively while also saving the school money on educational materials.

Some students in the engineering program assisted Gray in programming the school’s 3D printers to print supplies needed, which was a big help with providing more tools for students to use at home.

Typically Gray will purchase about seven kits that help students plot, draft and eventually print items for assignments. Those kids, which run about $24 each, can usually be shared among classes, allowing for all students to have a chance to use them.

However, this year, with students working from home, Gray needed to figure out a way to still provide the materials while not breaking the bank.

“I have three classes of engineering students, so that’s close to 70 students,” Gray said. “I needed 10 times the amount of materials I typically buy to be able to send items home with all students, so we had student helpers 3D print the items instead.”

Gray estimates she saved the school close to $1,700 in material costs.

Doing this allowed freshman engineering student Kayla Davidson, 14, the opportunity to learn CAD while learning remotely.

“Having the materials at home helped us to participate in class, instead of just watching something on our laptops,” Kayla said. “It was more fun, and helped us learn.”

This isn’t the first time students have helped the district save money while also applying what they learn in the classroom. At the beginning of this school year, OIA students helped Owensboro Public Schools maintenance staff cut plexiglass, and made 3D printed stands for the plexiglass that was placed in the cafeteria and other areas to help separate students for safety from the coronavirus.

Gray said these projects would not have been possible without the grants the school received from the DART Foundation, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana and Southern Star, which were all used to help build the student Maker Space. Those grants helped to purchase the 3D printers and other necessary equipment to effectively teach engineering students.

The program received the $42,000 Toyota grant and the $50,000 DART grant in 2018, and has received continued financial and educational support from Southern Star for several years that has assisted in the building of the Maker Space for students.

Bobbie Hayse, bhayse@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7315

Bobbie Hayse, bhayse@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7315

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