Show, Don’t Tell: Using 3D Printing as a Creative Outlet for Those who Struggle with Learning

ruled paper of assorted types and sizesRecently, we’ve advocated that students seeking STEM degrees should also think about taking artistic classes right alongside their science and technology classes. Only with some artistic background can a student who’s heavily geared towards engineering, mathematics, and science be able to translate those skills into real-world designs and solutions. And thankfully, with today’s technology, people are expressing themselves more and more—even those who didn’t think it was possible!

You see, people with learning disabilities often struggle to not only understand the lessons being taught to them in the classroom but also translate those lessons into ways that they can express themselves. Dyslexia is one disability that is particularly frustrating. But thanks to a new British 3D printer company, those who struggle with learning disabilities may have a new creative outlet that they’ve never considered before.

Enter Robox, the company that believes in technology’s ability to teach and inspire students who struggle the most with learning in the classroom. It’s no coincidence that Robox has this particular interest in mind for its printers—Chris Elsworthy, CEO of CEL and the man behind Robox 3D Printers, is dyslexic himself.

“For the first 15 or so years of my life, dyslexia made school in particular really difficult as rather than realizing I had a problem, my teachers assumed I was lazy or worse, stupid,” Elsworthy said in an interview with Digital Trends.

With the diagnosis of dyslexia, the role of technology in his life became even more important. After being awarded a grant, “technology helped me to cope with communicating, reading, [and] writing.” Ultimately, Elsworthy concluded, “Technology became an aid … on the theoretical side as well as the practical.”

“Technology has a different language,” Elsworthy explained, “it means technical drawing, modeling, and working out how things work can all be communicated without words, writing, and reading. Understanding mechanics, and engineering, and how things work is the complete opposite of learning to read and write—the two skill sets are not intertwined.”

3D printing, in many ways, is the perfect way to describe this theory. “3D printing allows you to explore mechanics, engineering and how things work without the need for books. It is the difference between academia and practical application,” says Elsworthy. 3D printing goes from idea to tangible object without the need for written instructions. Robox’s technology allows the user to circumvent written language: children can draw pictures, make models, show workings, and then apply what they’ve learned without ever having to struggle through a Word document.

The possibilities are limitless for these printers, especially for those with learning disabilities, says Elsworthy. While smartphones, tablets, and laptops have a tendency to isolate young children in an alternate, virtual world, 3D printing unites everyone in a self-made reality. “3D printers bring back the engagement between parents and children, while allowing families to experiment, build, and create using technology,” says Elsworthy.

Let’s hope that with greater and greater advances in technology, even those who think learning is too hard or boring have the chance to enjoy these new inventions!

photo credit: Paper via photopin (license)