by Kate Shub
I walk into Yarmouth High School and quickly realize what a big impact the Yarmouth Education Foundation is having on the students and staff here.
“You’re here to talk about the YEF?” one student asks. “The YEF is awesome!” she says.
Looking around the school brings back fond memories of my own time here as a student, way back when. I’m excited to return to learn more about a Yarmouth Education Foundation grant that recently paid for two 3D printers.
Technology has changed. I remember when old computers filled the lab here; their screens were green and black, and they were attached to large printers by a bulky cord. I can still hear the sound those old printers would make. I can still feel what it was like to rip tractor feed from the edge of each sheet of paper.
Times have changed. The high school has had a major renovation since my time here, and it is a fantastic facility. I enter an area of the school known as the FABLAB, a large workshop space filled with woodworking tools, robots, computers, and more. The FABLAB is home to industrial technology classes of the 21st century.
“The FABLAB is anything you want it to be!” says Reed Oestreicher, a sophomore at Yarmouth High School.
Reed is an impressive young man. He dreams of becoming an engineer, and I can see the passion he has for designing and building products of all kinds.
Reed and his STEM instructor, Tom Pitman, can’t wait to show me the FABLAB’s new 3D printers. Mr. Pitman teaches a number of classes here, including Engineering, Product Design, and Mechanisms.
“You have no idea how these 3D printers have blown these programs wide open,” Mr. Pitman says with excitement. “Students and teachers can’t get enough of them.”
3D printers have revolutionized the way things are designed and made. Students design products on the computer and then print them in plastic, giving high school students here the opportunity to create all sorts of unique products.
Today, Mr. Pitman and his Mechanism students are creating their own wind turbine.
“Mechanisms is a course about how things work. We create gears, levers, pulleys, and more to help us understand basic mechanical principles.”
Pitman says having 3D printers is a “game changer.” Instead of spending hours of time carving parts out of wood or waiting weeks for a part they ordered to ship, students can design the part they need on a computer, send their design to a 3D printer, and they have the part within minutes.
“This is the technology students will see in the real world,” says Pitman. “If you can draw it, you can make it.”
The 3D printers are about two feet high and two feet wide, and they sit on a table in the FABLAB. The machines produce extremely thin layers of plastic that pile on top of each other to create an endless list of products.
Reed, the sophomore, proudly shares some of products he’s created with the 3D printers, including gears of all shapes and sizes for his Robotics Club, a model Lamborghini sports car as a class project, and plastic parts that helped him build an electric car for his Science Olympiad Team.
Mr. Pitman says these printers are attracting interest from students and teachers throughout the school, even students who have never shown any interest in these types of classes before.
“It turns a light on for these kids, it excites them, and it brings new students down to this part of the school every day.” The FABLAB has become a place where students spend their free time, eagerly watching for what the printers will build next. Pitman enjoys seeing his students work together to make products using these 3D printers, but it’s not just the students who are learning something new.
“I’ve learned a lot from using these printers as well,” Pitman says.
As I leave Yarmouth High School, I realize how much the building and technology have changed since my time, but some things always remain the same here. The school is filled with an outstanding staff and impressive students, and they truly appreciate the support of the Yarmouth community.
“We are extremely fortunate to have the Yarmouth Education Foundation,” says Reed. “Having this technology inside our school sets Yarmouth students apart from others.”