3D Printer Filament Grant

BISD Teacher Obtains Grant to Turn Recycled Plastic into 3D Printer Filament
Posted on 11/14/2022
This is the image for the news article titled BISD Teacher Obtains Grant to Turn Recycled Plastic into 3D Printer FilamentBrazosport ISD recognizes the importance and impact of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education from an early age. Taking ideas and turning them into products is powerful, and 3D printing makes that a reality all the way from an elementary "Maker Space" in a library or classroom to a senior course in rocket engineering or robotics. 3D printing is a large part of creating 21st century learners.

Many campuses across the district make use of 3D printing, which consumes a plastic filament. These spools of plastic filament can be costly over time and more importantly, can add up to large amounts of waste. These plastics can take hundreds of years to degrade in landfills if not recycled. There is also a constant source of plastic waste from water bottles and other food products used across our community and beyond every day.

At times there can be a lack of understanding regarding the impact of waste on our school, neighborhoods, and society. We tend to have an immediate view of waste material as "trash" when in fact it can be reused. All STEM related fields have an ethical component to the coursework, which is difficult to teach without application. Looking at water bottles alone, you can quickly see the need for recycling. We create thousands of pounds of waste every week of food plastic (bottles, silverware, etc). With 3D printers running daily, or even hourly across the district, we have a constant feed of filament plastic waste as well.

Mr. Chris McLeod saw an opportunity to write a “Grants for Great Ideas” (sponsored by the Brazosport ISD Education Foundation) in order to create a district wide and permanent solution for this waste. Recycle and reuse it!

The filament maker system takes all of that waste and turns it into high quality filament that can be reused. Students "feed" the machine scraps and the output material is spooled and ready for 3D printing again. These spools can then be delivered back to campuses for reuse. Not only does this create a responsible cycle of plastic use, but it gives STEM learners an important mindset that they can carry into their communities and careers. Students at the high school level can coordinate with students across the district to pick up and deliver the plastic filament, building a vertical alignment for students throughout our district.

Furthermore, students will be able to use the machine to innovate new materials for specific applications - a bracket for a robot, a plant container resistant to sunlight, or even fuel for a rocket!  This product and project opens the door to innovation and collaboration across the district.

By creating recycle stations near each 3D printer and in lunchrooms, we can collect this plastic and immediately begin recycling and reusing.

Mr. McLeod is excited to have his Senior Level Goddard students learn to operate the Filabot system. They will coordinate with the Brazoswood Student Council to begin the recycling program within the Brazoswood feeder pattern schools. Each school within the feeder pattern will gain exposure to recycling information, as well as, be awarded with filament created from their school’s plastic recycling center.

Mr. McLeod states, “This recycling system creates a unique opportunity for our students - it involves research, cross-content collaboration, and a chance for our students to engage in STEM outreach across the district. This is a student led and student driven initiative, and will provide years of high level learning and experimentation.”

3D Grant

3D Grant 3D Grant

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