Power of a Pinwheel

A personal introduction to 3D printing

The small group of kindergarteners peered into the 3D printer at John Jay High School, mesmerized by its precise, repetitive movements and tantalized by the knowledge that it was making something for them. 

It would be a blade for a wind turbine cell phone charger that their class was building.

As they watched the printer, high school technology teacher Jonathan Peter highlighted the basics of what was happening. In the hallway, sophomore engineering students Alex Osborne and Antonio Becker answered other kindergarteners’ questions.

Kindergarteners meet High School Technology teacher

project-based learning with a purpose

The unique experience grew out of Katonah-Lewisboro’s commitment to engaging, active and relevant learning as well as the heightened emphasis on educating “solutionaries”—students who are empowered and prepared to create a better future.

a field trip to John Jay High School

It all started a few weeks ago on the elementary school playground

Meadow Pond Elementary teachers Jackie Kovatch and Dorothy O'Brien were using pinwheels with their students as part of their study of wind. Could a pinwheel charge a cell phone, the kindergarteners wondered.

Through Steve Zoeller, staff developer for STEAM and sustainability, Kovatch connected with Jonathan Peter, John Jay High School technology teacher. Turns out that two sophomores in Peter’s Principles of Engineering class were also doing a project on wind energy.

Within weeks, engineering students Antonio and Alex Zoomed into her class. They told the kindergarteners that they could help them make a small wind turbine that could charge a cell phone. They'd make the parts on the high school's 3D printer.

First Stop: the Robotics Lab

Before long the kindergarteners were on a field trip to John Jay High School, sitting snugly on the carpet in the high school’s robotics lab as Alex and Antonio showed them the parts of a wind turbine. “One of your blades is being printed right now,” said Alex. “Let’s go see.”

The kindergarteners and their teachers were full of questions about the material that the printer used and how it was programmed for each specific project. “It goes on like icing,” said one kindergartener, watching the 3D printer move back and forth, adding a miniscule layer each time.

Leadership in action

technology exploration

energy exploration

“This will still be working when you are back home, after school,” Alex said to the students.

“My students generated a list of questions and thoughts about 3D printers,” said Kovatch the day after the field trip. “We’re looking forward to Alex and Antonio bringing the turbine to our class and seeing what happens next!”