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Friday, May 31, 2019

Teacher works to ensure Windham Middle School students stay ahead of the technology curve

WMS STEM Teacher Jason Lanoie, next to
the FlashForge 3D Printer
By Craig Bailey

Windham Middle School’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) teacher, Jason Lanoie, has an objective: to ensure students are fully engaged in the learning process. Lanoie emphasized, “We want our program to change with technology and where things are going.”

To support this, Lanoie is seeking funding for a GlowForge 3D Laser Printer, which he hopes to have in place by the beginning of the upcoming school year. To-date, he has received half of the needed $4,000 from The Perloff Family Foundation.

“This equipment will broaden the scope of experience that the students have with our hands-on program at the middle school level,” Lanoie stated.

Lanoie is not new to the process of obtaining funding to supply his students with leading edge technology. Since joining Windham Middle School, he has written grants for the school’s two existing 3D printers.

A 3D printer is a machine allowing the creation of a physical object from a three-dimensional digital model, typically by laying down many thin layers of a material in succession.

“I began working with the Perloff’s, who hadn’t yet had experience with the technology,” Lanoie shared. “I wanted to make sure we had the best possible technology for schools. The result is that we acquired our first 3D printer, a MarkerBot Replicator 2, during the beginning of the 2014 school year, for $2,500. More recently we acquired our second, more advanced, 3D printer, a FlashForge, at a cost of $300.”

Lanoie reinforced his objective, “We want to provide new technology for students. If we don’t, students can get bored. For example, everyone has a smartphone. We need to keep up with and stay ahead of the students. Soon, these things [3D Printers] will be in the home, as they are becoming more affordable.”

In contrast to the existing 3D printers at Windham Middle School, which create physical objects, a 3D laser printer uses a beam of light the width of a human hair to cut, engrave, and shape designs from a variety of materials.

A few examples of what the students could create with the 3D laser printer include: a family photo keepsake by importing a digital photo into the machine and burning it onto a piece of wood, glass etching to make a special gift for a loved one, or, designing something that can be used on their Rube Goldberg machine (a contraption that uses a chain reaction to accomplish a very simple task in a very complicated manner).

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When asked, why the GlowForge 3D laser printer, Lanoie responded, “I had been doing research on the technology. Then, I watched an episode of MythBusters, in which Adam Savage did a review on the product and absolutely loved it. When seeing someone like Savage, an expert who supports STEM programs, enthusiastic about the tool, it confirmed where I wanted to go. That sealed the deal.”

Lanoie continued, “This investment will ensure our students remain engaged. You should see the look on their faces when new technology is introduced. It really shows they are interested in learning and using the technology. The result: the students are excited about being in school.”
Further emphasizing the point, Lanoie mentioned, “I love to have the 3D printer going when new students arrive. They are excited about it and ask ‘Can I do this, or that?’ That is entirely on them. They can then try it and figure it out. The technology helps our students learn our engineering design process.”

Lanoie indicated, “The students will be happy to create something with this new technology, for public display, to memorialize all donations received in support of this program.”
To learn more about the GlowForge 3D Laser Printer, visit: www.glowforge.com.

Donations can be sent to the Windham Middle School, in care of the STEM program. Any questions can be directed to Jason Lanoie (jlanoie@rsu14.org) or Principal Drew Patin both of which can be reached at: 207-892-1820.

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