While looking over the options for our Major Digital Project, I was swarmed with the thoughts of many possibilities. While going through my options, I quickly noticed that all my options had a few themes in common. It became apparent, that I want to create something practical and usable within my classroom, something that includes one of my personal interests, and also something that will cause high levels of excitement and engagement with the students in my classroom. These themes lead me to choosing Option B and begin learning a new skill while sharing and documenting my progress. I’ve chosen to learn how to use a CNC router and incorporate it into multiple curriculums throughout multiple grade levels at our school.
As some of you may know, I’ve taken over the Drafting and Computer Aided-Design 10, 20, and 30 courses at my school. Initially, I knew very little about these courses, but being interested in computers and technology, I jumped at the chance to sign a contract that included teaching them. At that time, our school only had access to an 8-year-old 3D Printer. Similar with other emerging technology, 8 years in the 3D printing world is an eternity, and a few years after I took over the courses, we were fortunate enough to be able to purchase a new printer that was over twice the size, and much more efficient.
Shoutout to Wave of the Future 3D in Saskatoon, SK. They truly helped me in every facet of my learning journey with our printer, and they are great guys to deal with. They are also the guys who 3D printed an entire camper trailer, that you may have seen online or on the news a couple years back.
Before I get too far on a tangent, let me explain that 3D Printers, CNC Routers, and similar machines are important in bringing ideas, and the plans you create in a Drafting and related classes, to life. They are one of the final steps in the design process, and I find it extremely important and rewarding when a student is able to see their ideas, and designs be actualized. A CNC router is going to be the next step in our improvement of our Drafting, and PAA programs, and will be another avenue, and material to allow students to gain experience with. Over the last couple of years, I have put hundreds of hours into learning and becoming proficient with our 3D printer, and I hope to take a similar path with a CNC router.
Some of the goals I hope to achieve during this experience:
- Become moderately proficient with running and maintaining a CNC Router
- Incorporate CNC router projects into PAA9, Drafting 10, and Drafting 20/30 (Next semester)
- Understand the difference in router bits, both in cutting shape and quality
- Experiment with different types and thicknesses of wood and aluminum (difficult for some CNC routers)
- Document my progress through blogs, photos, and possibly short video
- Engage students
- Encourage teachers of other curriculums, to learn alongside me, and incoporate it into their classes where it may be beneficial
- Create a beginner’s resource for other teachers/schools/individuals who may be in the market to purchase one. The goal would be to release this online as a free, open-source document. I have plans to include using the software Canva to create this resource. I have very little experience with Canva, so if anyone has some suggestions on how to use it, or other software to check out, I would love to hear about it!
Based on the research I have done so far, there is a very wide variety of manufacturers, software, hardware in the CNC router world. Personally, this led to an overwhelming amount of information to sift through while I was trying to find the CNC router that I believe would be of most benefit to our school. This also means that much of the learning material online is machine specific and is intimidating to work through for beginning users. If I can make this journey easier, more efficient, or more cost effective for other teachers, schools, or hobbyists in similar positions, it will be well worth it.
P.S. If you have any suggestions of resources, or experts that wouldn’t mind me picking their brain, I would love to hear from you!