The Use of 3D Technologies to Support Computational Thinking in STEM Education

The Use of 3D Technologies to Support Computational Thinking in STEM Education

Panagiotis Angelopoulos (Ministry of Education, Greece), Alexandros Balatsoukas (University of Groningen, The Netherlands) and Adina Nistor (European Schoolnet, Belgium)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4576-8.ch017


Computational thinking (CT) is increasingly emerging as a thinking skill to support the development of 21st century skills such as critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, or technology literacy, essential for students to become successful in an increasingly complex society. Educators are always looking for new strategies for developing these skills in students. Three-dimensional (3D) printing and scanning technologies are sufficiently mature and economically accessible to be used at the school level. By using 3D technologies, students explore, invent, discover, and engage in real problems and situations. This study explores the use of 3D printing technologies in a secondary school in Athens over the course of two school years. The study investigates if 3D technologies can support the development of CT skills in students.
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Theoretical Framework

The term Computational Thinking was already known through the work of Seymour Papert (1980), while many recent works refer to both the historical course of computational thought and its spiritual roots. Although, it seems that there is not yet a commonly agreed definition of CT, Nardelli E. (2019) notices that after the widely cited communications viewpoint by Jeannette Wing an extensive discussion opened with hundreds of subsequent works and papers analyzing the expression and arguing about what Computational Thinking is. In this work we argue that occupation with 3D printing technologies helped students to develop skills considering that Computational Thinking (CT) is a problem-solving process that incorporates a number of features and processes, delivering questions and problems to students in a way that allows to use a computer and other tools and procedures to solve them, such as logically organizing and analysing data, system design and understanding of human behavior, utilizing the fundamental concepts of computer science (Wing, 2006). We also consider that Computational thinking consists of four parts:

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