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Printing in 3D

Melissa Scott, right, explains to the children of the STEM program how the 3D printer works. The Fayette County Public Library hosts STEM at 4 p.m. every other Thursday. Children in grades 3-6may attend.

By LEANA CHOATE - lchoate@newsexaminer.com

Children at a STEM program at the Fayette County Public Library made a cat as they learned about 3D printers. 

The STEM program Thursday was led by Melissa Scott, the library’s assistant director / youth services librarian. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.

“We’re going to make a cat today with the 3D printer,” Scott said.

A 3D printer works by scanning whole objects or CAD drawings and then making them into a bunch of small slices. The printer makes copies of the object from the bottom up, adding slice upon slice. Layers of a polymer put on by the 3D printer form together to make a solid object.

The children had some interesting thoughts on the process.

“What happens if you put the thing that’s already printed back into the printer, will it make it 2D?” Zane Holcomb, a child at the program, asked. 

“No, it would make it 4D, everyone knows that,” Lynx Davis, another child at the program, said.

“No, no, the printer only does what the model on the memory card tells it to do,” Scott said.

Scott showed the children how to put material into the printer that will make the cat. The materials that go into a 3D printer are plastic threads that the printer will form together and build the object. 

Scott explained to the children that she had the model of the cat image on a memory card, and when she puts the memory card into the 3D printer, it will print the cat.

The children played a game while the printer started to make the cat. 

“It will take a while to print because it has to make all those layers. We have to be patient,” Scott said.

The children played Gravity Maze, a logic game that tested their visual perception and reasoning skills. The children move and build towers together that can be arranged any way they chose, but must be able to build a path for a marble to get to the main tower. 

The STEM program meets every other Thursday at the library, 828 N. Grand Ave. The next meeting is at 4 p.m. Thursday, April 18. Children grades 3-6 may attend but must pre-register online at the library’s website, online.fcplibrary.lib.in.us/evanced/lib/eventcalendar.asp, or by phone, 765-827-0883, or by visiting the library.