After touring a pair of Columbus colleges, Crothersville Junior-Senior High School teacher Linda Myers was walking outside with senior Noah Hoskins.
Hoskins had spotted a three-dimensional printer and told Myers it would be great for the school to have one of its own.
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Jackie Hill, workforce director for Jackson County Industrial Development Corp., overheard their conversation and told them about the EcO Network STEM/Manufacturing Grant.
Hill said the classroom educational grant could be used to buy a printer and supplies.
“She said, ‘Write a grant for it,’ and he’s like, ‘Really?’ and I said, ‘Really?’” said Myers, who is Crothersville’s EcO representative.
On the way home, they brainstormed about who would benefit most from the printer. She said half of the eighth-graders have a health class one semester, while the other half has a study hall, and then they switch for the next semester.
Myers said the school has many capable kids and she would rather see them spending their study hall in an engineering and technology class.
She shared that idea with Principal Adam Robinson, and he thought the school’s robotics program also could benefit from the printer.
Russ Sanders, a science teacher and the robotics coach, told Myers a lot of other schools with robotics teams have printers to make parts for their robots.
Myers wound up writing the grant and receiving the Monoprice Mini Select 3D Printer.
She said she hopes it allows eighth-graders to learn about manufacturing, including startup, follow-through, sales and marketing.
“I want it to be geared more toward manufacturing because of all of the numerous jobs that we have in the county,” Myers said of the class. “I know this (printer) is small scale, but when they get to wherever they are going to go, they are going, ‘Oh yeah, I know how to use one of those.’ I just want something to click.”
Sanders said between the class and robotics, the students will be applying science, technology, engineering and math.
“That’s what we’re trying to do is get them stimulated to go into engineering and technology because it is the way of the future,” he said.
He hopes the class can come up with something to make and sell and use the proceeds to buy more plastic filament.
“We’ve got three of these, but they are going to run out eventually,” Sanders said of the rolls of filament, which come in a variety of colors.
He said the robotics team could use the printer to make parts and tools.
Robinson said he likes how the class and robotics program will be student-driven.
“A lot of the things that are coming up that are really cool and the kids are actually going to be able to use, they know more about it than we do,” he said. “I think it will be one of those things where the class actually drives it more than anything else. … The kids are going to be learning it with us versus us just being the teacher.”
While Hoskins graduated in May and won’t be using the printer, he said it will be a big benefit to the school.
“I think it will get kids more involved in different things,” he said, noting that would include students interested in a computer programming or machining career. “It will be pretty cool for the school.”
Myers said Crothersville wouldn’t have gotten the printer if it wasn’t for Hoskins sharing his thoughts, and she appreciates Hill for letting them know about the funding opportunity.
“I really want to push that because there are a lot of other activities that we’ve done here at the school that would not have been possible without (Hill),” Myers said.
Hill helped coordinate them going on the tours of Ivy Tech Community College and Purdue Polytechnic Columbus, and JCIDC has helped students land educational opportunities and jobs.
“It’s not what you know. It’s who you know,” Myers said. “It’s just making those connections. I wouldn’t have made those connections if it wouldn’t have been for EcO.”