I recently wrote about a recent research project at Carnegie Mellon University that shows how children are increasingly using electronics to make new connections with other people.
In a new paper published in the journal Nature Communications, Carnegie Mellon researchers describe how they used a 3-D printer to create a small, portable electron device that allows children to experiment with different kinds of electronic devices.
The researchers used a three-dimensional (3-D) 3-axis printer to make a three dimensional electron device.
The device uses a thin plastic tube that the kids hold in their hands and uses the tube to insert the electron into the device.
“When children learn to manipulate the device and to manipulate it independently, we believe that their independence will allow them to use and experiment with new and exciting ways of thinking and doing things,” says Michael Schatz, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Carnegie M.C.E. “Our research shows that children are developing a critical understanding of what is possible with electronic devices.”
In a nutshell, the researchers were able to create three-dimensional electron devices that they then attached to a three foot PVC pipe, which they attached to the back of the 3-d printer and used to print the three-D printed device.
Using this method, the students were able control the device by pressing a button.
The kids were able test the device independently, which allowed them to manipulate and design their own 3-dimensional devices.
They also learned to make connections to different kinds or circuits on the device, which helped them build an understanding of how different kinds and circuits work.
At the end of the project, the device was able to connect to the outside world using a wire and two-wire power, as well as create the first electronic circuit that connects two different kinds.
“Electronic devices like the electron device are becoming increasingly important in our lives, and as kids, we are learning to create, build and use them,” Schatz says.
“We are discovering that a device can be a fun and exciting way to explore different ways of interacting with the world.”
The research team has been developing their electron device at Carnegie and is currently working with other institutions to create other 3- and 4-dimensional electron devices, and to explore how these devices might be used in the classroom.
The research is funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.