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Donations help THS generate increased interest in STEM program
THS stem pic1
Turlock High student Hana Guerrero watches as a recently-donated Dasbotics 3D printer creates a figurine. - photo by ANGELINA MARTIN/The Journal

A recent donation to the Turlock High School Engineering Technology/STEM Program has provided both state-of-the-art 3D printers and has boosted students’ interest in the course, adding to an already impressive display of the program’s hi-tech equipment.

Dasbotics, Inc. presented the program with two new 3D printers: a Prusa Chocolate 3D printer and a Dasbotics STEM+ 3D printer, valued at a combined $2,099. The 3D printers are used for various projects in the school’s Entech class, such as 3D printings of small motors or anything else that students wish to print.

Money donated by the Turlock Noon Rotary went toward buying new parts and supplies for the program’s previous 3D printers, which in turn put the school in contact with companies like Dasbotics. Dasbotics originally sent the program two 3D printers to test out, and thanks to the test run Dasbotics was able to make changes to their printer model. Now, the school’s program is the proud owner of two new 3D printers.

The creation of a 3D printed object is achieved using additive processes. In an additive process an object is created by laying down successive layers of material until the object is created. Each of these layers can be seen as a thinly sliced horizontal cross-section of the eventual object.

The Dasbotics STEM+ 3D printer feeds plastic filament into the printer’s plastic nozzle, which heats it enough to allow it to be used for printing. The nozzle draws the line of heated plastic in the shape or object desired, which is often created beforehand using a computer program. There are many websites that have premade models which can be downloaded and printed on the 3D printer, which students like Hana Guerrero often use.

“Using these printers is a really great experience to have because not everyone has the means to do these things we get to do,” said Guerrero, who recently completed a 3D bust of herself. “The fact that you can print out whatever you want to do not just on a regular printer, but in three dimensions is really cool.”

The room at THS that now houses their plethora of printers, laser engravers and other equipment was once used as an office for teachers, but thanks to the program’s accumulation of printers the room needed to be converted. The addition of the new equipment has also boosted interest in the Entech class, said instructor Bob Hoskins.

“This class has 42 students now, and usually it would run around 30 students,” said Hoskins.

Hoskins hope that the renewed interest in the STEM field will help contribute to the shortage of teachers in the field. With donations like those from Turlock Noon Rotary and Dasbotics, Inc., Hoskins predicts that the industrial technology classes offered at both THS and around the country will continue to see an increased interest from students, leading to more teachers in the future.