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Phoenix school using 3-D printer to educate students, change lives

(KTAR Photo/Kathy Cline)

PHOENIX — Students at a Phoenix middle school are learning to process recycled water bottles in a 3-D printer for both fun and to change lives.

“We made a pencil or silverware grip for those who maybe have arthritis,” Madison Park Middle School seventh-grader Eric Diazparra said of the printer.

Teacher Jason Bruno said the printer has helped his students grow an interest in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the four studies that make up STEM learning.

“It was intense,” he said. “You had to know your angles. You had to really be able to view everything correctly.”

Bruno said the printer brought a physical aspect that helped students learn, along with programs they could understand.

“TinkerCad is one online for free,” he said. “It’s real simple manipulation of geometic shapes — adding, subtracting, importing things.”

The printer was purchased through a grant from Arizona Public Service and the Phoenix Suns. APS and the team have partnered for years to offer STEM grants.

“If a teacher has a STEM-focused project that they have wanted to implement, but cost has been a barrier, we want them to apply for this grant,” Tina Marie Tentori, APS’s director of community affairs, said.

APS and the Suns award about $50,000 per school year in grant money.

“APS is committed to inspiring students to pursue careers in STEM, and we know that a creative project, designed and led by a passionate teacher, can be life-changing.”

Diazparra said the printer gives himself and other students a chance to make an impact on the world around them.

“Really young, maybe little, kids are doing something that might change one or many people’s lives,” he said.

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