turning students into problem solvers

Young students’ imaginations are limitless. And with a $10,000 grant from America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education program, an elementary school in South Dakota is pushing those imaginations to a new level with an update to its curriculum: 3D printing.

STEM Learning on a Global Scale

Sponsored by the Bayer Fund, the grant money from Grow Rural Education has enabled third, fourth and fifth-grade students in Laura Ingalls Wilder Elementary School in De Smet School District to explore beyond the typical elementary-level math and science projects.

To take it one step further, this printer is being used in an after-school course called City X Project. City X is an international program for 8- to 12-year-old students, allowing collaboration between students at De Smet with students in foreign countries as they give and receive feedback on inventions. Through this program, students are becoming familiar with concepts like design thinking, creative problem solving and social literacy with 3D printing technology.

Boosting Students’ Problem-Solving Skills

According to school officials, one of the most rewarding outcomes of the new program is not necessarily the fun of playing with a 3D printer but rather the development of “grit” among students. Design thinking teaches students how to fix problems by identifying the issue, brainstorming ideas, prototyping and eventually crafting a solution – skills that will only benefit students throughout schooling, college and future careers.

America’s Farmers knows that these rural education grants teach students critical thinking principles, empowering them with the strategies and drive to fix issues on their own. Once they are exposed to these concepts, students begin thinking outside of the box to solve actual problems in their classrooms. For example, in order to address the issue of shifting tables in the computer lab, students designed table stops. Even more useful, one parent and student used the 3D printer to create a device that helps a student with a disability play a musical instrument.

Rural Education Grants Today Build the Leaders of Tomorrow

America’s Farmers isn’t funding short-term solutions to issues with education. It’s providing the opportunities for long-term impact to students nationwide, giving them the skills to succeed now and in the future. It’s about creating young farmers, computer scientists, biologists, chemists, meteorologists and ecologists and igniting students’ passion for STEM subjects.

American farmers — are you inspired to help a local public school district? Submit your nomination, and your local schools could win $10,000 or $25,000 to enhance learning and students’ dreams. Visit our selection process page to learn more.