Kamloops students learning to harness technology

By Adam Donnelly
May 10, 2016 - 4:27pm

KAMLOOPS — Digital Native: it’s a term used to describe someone born after the widespread adoption of digital technology. At Brock Middle School, one teacher is using that understanding to help teach his students about applications of new technology, including 3D printing.

WATCH: Full report by Adam Donnelly 


Dean Paravantes sits in front of a laptop computer in his classroom, speaking to a student. “I’m going to download that, and I’m going to change the file name,” Paravantes tells the student.

This scene isn’t out of place in most schools, but it’s certainly not an activity you would associate with a middle school shop class, even a decade ago. Due to the rapid expansion of technology into almost every industry, it’s necessary to teach tech to students.

“My job of technology education is to teach and share the technologies that are available to students,” Paravantes told CFJC Today. “Traditionally that’s a shop class, so I’m known as a shop teacher… But really, what it involves is [teaching different] methods of production.”

The method of production students are working with today is 3D printing. Each student is designing their own ring, using specialized software. Once the design is complete,t he send a file to their teacher, who transfers the file into the 3D printing program, and can print off a prototype in a matter of minutes.

“All the software we’re using is up in the cloud,” Paravantes explained. “We don’t have a software we use within the school. That’s one thing; file management is another, because they have to send me all their files, and keep those organized. And as we’re designing and building our projects, we have to figure out what’s the application?”

Laredo Petterson happened upon the design technology class by accident. “I had a couple of blocks mixed up, so I got switched into this class, but I’m really glad I did, because it’s really fun,” Petterson said.

That mix up has given her the opportunity to learn about Computer Assisted Design, and has put those lessons to the test.

“We’re working on a program called TinkerCAD. It’s a 3D project, and we’re working with a 3D printer,” Petterson explained. “It’s really hard to get the hang of.You have to learn how to send the files [to have them printed]. It’s confusing, but once you get it, it’s really fun.”

While they aren’t easy skills to learn, getting to know the process now could be an advantage for these students later, when they’re looking for a career.

“When my Grade 8 and 9 students, when they get to Norkam, or a school of trades and technology, they should have a background experience with what 3D printing is,” Paravantes said. “Lots of people know about it, but seldom are people able to enjoy actually working with [3D printing].”

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