Hands-on problem solving is the aim of a new project at the University of Wyoming. “WyoMakers” gives Junior High students in Laramie access to UW students and resources to work on design projects.
Tonia Dousay is the project’s founder, and says students think about problem solving more deeply when they create something, as opposed to simply memorizing information. For example, she says designing model boats with 3D printers gives students an opportunity to look closely at building materials and dimensions in a tangible way.
"How much plastic goes into creating this model, versus how much metal if we had one of the 3D printers that uses metals as the component. And they start looking at different calculations and equations. So we end up with a little bit of science and a little bit of math but we’re doing it in a fun hands-on activity," she says.
Dousay says she hopes to expand the program and eventually hold a statewide “maker” competition that would challenge middle and high school students to design prototypes that could solve real-world problems facing Wyoming.