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An Interview with Paul Rotstein, Lynbrook Senior High School
April 21, 2016
A few weeks ago, we reported on the efforts of a high school technology teacher, Paul Rotstein, to bring real world learning experiences to his students with 3D printing while at the same time helping others. His team of students used tools learned in class to create one of a kind designs for students at a local hospital for children, St. Mary’s located in Lynbrook, New York. Amazed and awed by the efforts of his students, we reached out to Mr. Rotstein to talk about his experiences with the project and he agreed to our request for an interview. The interview was conducted via email and our questions with his answers appear below:
1) How long have you been working Lynbrook HS? How long have you been teaching technology to HS students?
I have been a Technology Education teacher at Lynbrook Senior High School for 6 years. This was my first teaching job since I graduated from SUNY Oswego.
2) Is this recent example the first time you have tried anything like this with your students? If not, what else have you done previously?
3) What inspired you to use 3D printing to give these students the opportunity to help others? Was this your first experience working with 3D printers?
We discussed the idea of designing prototypes to demonstrate the impact a 3D printer could have on the hospital. This demonstration would potentially inspire donors to fund the purchase of a printer. After our successful first run at this collaborative project, the focus has shifted. The director of rehab and I both agreed that purchasing a printer may not be as practical as it would be to simply continue our collaboration on an annual basis. This way, they wouldn't have to worry about procuring a machine, finding space for it, hiring people to operate it, and replacing it if/when it becomes outdated.
4) How long have you had 3D printers at your school? What kind of printer(s) did you use for this particular project?
5) What types of materials (e.g. filament) are you using for these designs? Additionally, what kind of software are they using?
The software I primarily use for this course is SOLIDWORKS. The students are also very familiar with SketchUp, which we use in my Architecture course.
6) How long did it take these students to learn to adequately use the technology? What were the most difficult things to teach them, and what were the easiest?
The easiest part is developing design concepts as a group. My classroom is very conducive to creativity with access to dry/erase boards and desktops, computers, drafting boards, and a group of students that are very comfortable working with one another.
The most difficult thing to teach students is how to reel back ideas. Students come up with wonderful ideas that are at times too lofty. What I try to do is to get them to identify their objective and see if there is a simpler solution within their capabilities to execute.
7) Were there any academic qualifications (grades, test scores, pre-requisite courses) required to take this Advanced Design and Innovation class? Is this the first exposure for students to this type of technology?
8) What have been the reactions of the parents of these students during the design process? Has this piqued the interest of future students who want to participate in something similar?
9) What advice, if any, would you give to fellow educators who are interested in doing a project like the one in your class?
10) What do you think schools and universities can do to better (if anything) to foster STEM efforts related to 3D printing? What do you think are the biggest barriers to a novice getting involved with the field and the technology?