The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Education feature: Catching up on tech


December 19, 2018

Jamie Cushman

Kyle Hughes, a sophomore at Clovis Christian Schools, shows off two gears he designed as part of the school's 3-D printing program.

CLOVIS - Now in its fourth year at Clovis Christian Schools, the 3-D printing program has expanded this year thanks to a new technology lab that includes newer equipment.

The new printers and computers allow CCS students to design their own projects in just a few minutes and then a few hours later print out an exact 3-D replica made from oil-based plastics.

While the students can also download pre-made designs online to print, instructor Mark Clayton said he enjoys seeing the kids use the computer program to manipulate their own projects.

"It's unlimited (what you can find online) but the real learning process is drawing your own stuff," Mark Clayton said.

Depending on the project, students will typically spend one or two class periods working on their designs. The printing itself can range from about four hours for a simpler project to over a day for something more intricate. A design of an Incredible Hulk toy the class found online took 36 hours to print.

Superintendent Ladona Clayton said the students are using the designs they created in class at their homes. Some have made jars with lids for storage and one even designed Christmas tree ornaments to be given to her family as gifts.

Sophomore Kyle Hughes has designed gears, wrenches and license plates among other projects in the class, enjoying the hands-on approach of the 3-D printing program.

"I enjoy the creativity you can do with it," Hughes said. "It's more enjoyable because you're having fun while you're learning."

Ladona Clayton noted that with the class, students are supplementing the skills they learned in mathematics or other subjects, without necessarily realizing it.

Using technology that may not even have been invented yet when their parents were in school nevermind being widely available, she said today's students have a lot more chances to learn new things.

"This is my 10th year and we didn't start with anything close to this," Ladona Clayton said. "It's exponentially picking up speed in everything technological."

Mark Clayton said the class also uses radio-controlled aircraft and drones to learn the basics of aeronautics. They have used the devices to conduct simulated search and rescue missions, exploring the schools' campus with a drone to find a student hiding.

Ladona Clayton said the next step for the program is to find investors in the community CCS can partner up with to utilize some student-designed projects, demonstrating the real-world application of the skills the students learn in the class.


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