Discovery Charter School, "Community Building in the Classroom"Discovery Charter School

“If you build it they will come”– Field of Dreams, 1989. A group of passionate people had the same dream in 2014, although not for a baseball diamond in their fields, but rather a school to embrace a multidisciplinary curriculum with an emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Their vision was to prepare K-8 students for life-long learning, collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving. Just over one year ago their dream became a reality, and now over 200 students are enrolled at Discovery Charter School in Inver Grove Heights, MN. There, boys and girls are engaged in an environment that values creativity, diversity, and multiculturalism. With their vision a partnership also ensued with VariQuest, provider of Trifecta™ 800 3D Printer, and STEM Fuse, a leader in K12 digital curriculum.

Dan Hurley, Discovery Charter School Director, knew in order to fulfill their dream they needed to build a ‘Dream Team’.

  • VariQuest— Provider of Trifecta™ 800 3D Printer designed exclusively for schools to seamlessly incorporate 3D technology in the classroom, and bring lessons to life.
  • STEM Fuse— Premier developer of K12 digital curriculum, including STEM:IT that addresses the needs of kinesthetic, visual, and auditory learners, while incorporating 21st century skills that instill real-world critical thinking, and innovative problem solving.
  • Talented Staff— 22 and counting… including Jennifer Roberts & Mikayla Curtis, 4th-6th grade teachers involved in 3D curriculum mapping, sequencing, pacing and lesson planning.

Now students grades 4, 5, and 6 are busy asking, imagining, planning, creating, improving, and communicating all in a digital and physical capacity.

“The printer [Trifecta 800] allows for a higher order of critical thinking, and the curriculum provides an opportunity to see things in real life”, says Mr. Hurley. “It’s like a piece of art; you build it, print it, and see it, then relate it to the curriculum.”

student 3d printing software       students using 3d printer       students showing off 3d printed objects

Here’s what Mikayla and Jennifer, teachers instrumental in engaging students with 3D technology, have to say about the Trifecta 800 + STEM:IT offering-

“It has given kids who don’t take an interest in school, or are struggling academically, the chance to be leaders in the classroom through their creativity.”

“It’s a huge motivation to problem-solving, giving them the skills to make mistakes and learn how to fix them.”

“Learn more by doing— how to process emotions, frustration, disappointment and elation.”

“Community building in the classroom— [students] enjoy helping one another.”

So what have their students been up to as of late?

Plenty! Over Christmas they were busy little elves designing and creating snowflakes
h their names on them, integrating design elements from both Tinkercad® and STEM:IT. In February, students created hearts from a design they saw online with wire, as a 3D print, giving each design a beat of its own. Recently they’ve been incorporating The Westward Expansion STEM:IT lesson into their social studies curriculum, creating a cup and ball toy from Trifecta 800— a game pioneers played on the trail. All of these hands-on activities help develop critical thinking skills by giving students the power to take their creative ideas and workout the logistics. With peer collaboration they work through the process of how to create something, and what to do when it fails.

girl with 3d printed heart                       students using 3d printer

Jennifer (5th/6th grade teacher) is also using the fascination and excitement of 3D printing to reward her students, while teaching money management skills with her “Money Board”. What’s that you ask? It’s an opportunity for students to apply for certain classroom jobs, i.e- P.E. Helper, Game Organizer, I.T Person, etc., and get paid. The money earned can then be used to purchase treats/privileges from the money board. The most expensive reward on the money board is the opportunity to design whatever 3D print they’d like and watch it come to life on Trifecta 800. Students are diligently saving their money to purchase this activity!

Help Wanted Poster      3d Printing Software on Laptop     Student with 3d printed car

Finally, the students in both Jennifer and Mikayla’s classes are paying it forward with
their knowledge of STEM:IT and 3D printing, by creating circles and cylinders printed from Trifecta 800 to help 1st & 2nd grade students with experiential learning in the study of shapes and attributes.

Click here to meet Discovery Charter School and watch their online story!

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All other brand or product names referenced are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies or organizations. 


  • Engage the whole brain with with hands-on learning
  • Develop critical thinking skills by giving students the power to bring their ideas to life
  • Prepare students for life-long learning and collaboration with STEM

Next Steps

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