Magazine article Technology & Learning

Virginia Middle Schoolers Make Electricity Real

Magazine article Technology & Learning

Virginia Middle Schoolers Make Electricity Real

Article excerpt

This year, Michael Kenney's 8th-grade physical science students will learn about electricity by designing their own circuit boards. They'll use die cutters to make circuits--complete with LED lights, wires, and various types of switches. Kenney says they won't be using 3D printers for this particular unit, even though his class has two large, self-contained 3D printers and a dozen small Japanese 3D printers that he funded through grants from the nearby University of Virginia.

Last year, Kenney's students built speakers. The bases were 3D printed and students designed cones for the speakers. "They made big ones, little ones, whatever they wanted," says Kenney. "Then they made a solenoid to make the electricity go back and forth and attached it to the cone." Students plugged their speakers into their iPods and listened to music, observing the differences due to cone size.

The impetus behind this exciting hands-on work is to prepare students for jobs in advanced manufacturing. "Even if that isn't where they end up, we want them to develop these skills," says Kenney, who teaches at Buford Middle School in Charlottesville, Va. …

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