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Once A Greenback - Always A Greenback

New technology expands capabilities at school

Courtesy Pratt Tribune

            

As long as there have been printers, schools have been heavy users of the equipment designed to produce multiple copies of worksheets, study materials and tests. The definition of printers is changing, however, and the Pratt school district has some of the new models that print in three dimensions. Thanks to a $20,000 anonymous donation, the Pratt Public Schools Foundation was able to provide a 3-D printer in the Pratt High library and a printer-engraver in the woodworking shop. At a tour for USD 382 Board of Education members Monday evening, Superintendent Suzan Patton said the foundation is trying to come up with ways to generate money from alumni to fund what is known as a makerspace or makers lab, do-it-yourself spaces where people can gather to create, invent and learn. They often include 3D printers, software, electronics, craft and hardware supplies and tools. Science teacher Heath Sharp is the man behind the “Maker Movement” at Pratt High. He envisions a center that can be open during the evening and summer and a community of creative and motivated individuals who will “amaze us with what they can produce. ”The emphasis this year has been to get teachers and students familiar with what the printer can do. Students can use a free print coupon to schedule a 3-hour print of any school-appropriate item they find online. Library aide Denise Haas coordinates the scheduling. Classes have used the printer for group projects. An environmental science class printed and assembled a wind turbine. Southwest Elementary classes will print out objects to represent each stage of butterfly metamorphosis. Science coordinator Lu Bitter has ordered computer-drafted terrarium lids for a kindergarten ecology project. Sharp believes the 3D printer will become as common as cell phones.The technology is changing quickly. In another year, he estimates the printer in the library will still be “good but not great.”

Bryan Pixler’s career and technical education students are using computer-controlled equipment similar to what is being used in industry, thanks to Foundation grants. He demonstrated the newest piece, a laser engraver and cutter, for BOE members. Woodworking students have used the equipment to engrave designs in glass or on wood for furniture projects, digital media students designed and engraved signs, and he has produced some trophies and plaques. Board members watched as the cutter first engraved the Greenback logo onto acrylic, then cut pieces into a keepsake box that Pixler said several of the softball players would use to protect and display their state championship rings. “People are making good money designing and making these things,” he commented. At a Foundation meeting last week, Patton suggested that graduation was a great time for family and friends to honor special people, either as a donation or by purchasing an engraved brick.

Information is available at the school’s website, usd382.com or at the district office.

Each year, the Foundation provides teacher grants for wants and needs in the $100 to $300 range. This year’s grants, totaling $2861.48, will be used to purchase storage pieces, books, materials and apps, music, supplies, and funding for a music festival.

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