3D printing brings Burgh buses and creativity to life

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In the West Jefferson Hills School District, fourth and fifth graders from the district’s TJ3D club shed light on newsworthy events in Pittsburgh over the past two years. Using design software and 3D printers, the club creates Burgh bussmall bus-shaped levels.

The idea stems from several bus-related incidents in Pittsburgh, including one in which a city bus fell into a sinkhole and another that required a lift from a collapsed bridge downtown. In both cases, no one was harmed, and the students created their designs in response, showing the inability of city buses to stay level.

The club, which uses its profits for 3D printing materials and new projects, was created as an opportunity to do more with 3D printing, says Adam Gebhardt, school district art teacher and club organizer. TJ3D. “We had learned basic 3D printing technology in school, and it was always difficult to incorporate that into the regular curriculum,” he says. “We have created a club so that children can dive a little deeper into 3D printing technology.”

The club’s students, all as young as 10 or 11, came up with incredible designs. More recently, Gerhardt shares, they conceptualized and designed from the ground up a lightsaber with a plastic locking mechanism.

3D printers also keep students interested in artistic and creative projects. “Part of that happened because I started seeing kids losing interest in art in fifth grade,” says Gebhardt. “But some are great at programming or 3D design – things like Minecraft – and those kids are the ones who really latched onto that and took it to another level.”

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In addition to club students working on 3D printing and design, there are students handling sales for the club, learning skills to run a business. The club also has a LEGO division and a new branch dedicated to charity work and donations.

Over the next few weeks, however, everyone will be on deck packing and shipping Burgh buses. In three days, the club sold over 650 levels, with more orders coming in from all over the country.

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