Photo by Joe Chitwood
As the school year ends, Hershey High School science teacher Jeff Brittenham said his first Robotics and 3D printing class made some great strides.The class printed a lot of keychains and small items as they learned how to make 3D printing successful, but they also ran into some mechanical failures.
“Actually, one of the motors quit on our printer,” Brittenham said, “but I am working with the company that made it, troubleshooting it to see if I need to send it back of if they can send me parts to get it fixed.”
Brittenham said next year’s class still plans on building 3D printed prosthetic hands, something he hoped to get to this year.
They received a donation to buy the material to create four operational prosthetic hands. The hands will be donated for people in need, he said.
It is not a question of if but of when.
“We definitely will do the hand challenge we entered,” he said. “It was started by a doctor to help others. He made the software we will use to print them. We have everything we need. We just need to get the printer fixed and the software program up and running.”
Brittenham hopes dabbling in robotics and 3D printing will create interest in those careers among his students.
“It gives them the basics for engineering and computer programming,” he said. “From there, they can decide if they like that field.”
“We did pretty good for just starting out,” Brittenham said. “3D printing takes time. We were trying to print a lamp. It requires a bunch of small parts, so it takes time. Hopefully down the line we can purchase a few smaller printers. They cost about $500 each but could be used to preprint parts and give the class more time for assembly.”
Overall, he is satisfied with the initial concept and looks forward to next year.
As for the robots, the first tournament at Ravenna was an eye opener for the novice team. They got to see what experienced robot builders had developed.
As the students planned and experimented with different ideas, their robots as well as their programming skills improved.
“One of our guys actually took fourth place at the next tournament,” Brittenham said.
“Next year we will be able to do more meets now that we are sound and don’t have to purchase a lot of equipment. We already have the maximum 16 students enrolled with six more on standby,” he said.