It first took Digital Harbor High School student Darius McCoy eight weeks to assemble a Printrbot Jr., a 3D printer shipped piecemeal that the buyer must then put together. After he finished the first Printrbot in early June, he assembled a second one, this time taking only eight days to construct it.
Last Wednesday, McCoy took on his third Printrbot as he helped a group of seniors from Perryville High School build their own 3D printer — in just one day — inside the Digital Harbor Tech Center in Federal Hill.
The seven Perryville students are all members of the same Destination Imagination team, an annual competition that pits students against one another in a variety of open-ended challenges. Some are STEM-based. Others rely on improvisation skills. The challenge for these Perryville students this year is Laugh ART Loud, which requires students to base a skit on a piece of artwork from another country.
Why the Printrbot, then? As these students’ Destination Imagination team manager explained, the students plan to use the 3D printer to make the objects they’ll need, such as mouthpieces, to convert props in their skit into playable musical instruments.
“They thought it’d be good to use [the printer] to print what they need to transform scenery into musical instruments,” said Scott Dellosso, an 8th grade English teacher at Perryville Middle School who has been team manager for the group of Perryville High School students since their 7th-grade year.
Dellosso met husband-wife duo and Digital Harbor Foundation employees Shawn and Steph Grimes at this year’s Maryland State Education Association conference in October, where the Grimeses delivered a presentation on makerspaces and using 3D printing in schools. Dellosso was sold on the idea, and almost immediately arranged to have his Destination Imagination team travel an hour south to Baltimore to get help building their own Printrbot.
Along with Digital Harbor Foundation director of technology Shawn Grimes, McCoy shepherded the group of Perryville seniors as they assembled the Printrbot purchased for them with leftover funds from the team’s fundraising efforts last year.