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The Flying Turtle & Growth Mindset

Posted in 3D Printing, EdTech Musings, and Growth Mindset

If asked, “Do you have a growth mindset?”, I would immediately respond, “Of course… emphatic yes!” But recently, my growth mindset was challenged. How you ask? I answer with a question… Have you ever tried 3D Printing?

Carol Dweck’s definition of a fixed and growth mindset is defined as:

“In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that’s that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don’t necessarily think everyone’s the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.”

“Stanford University’s Carol Dweck on the Growth Mindset and Education” June 19, 2012. Retrieved November 26, 2019.

It was that last line that got me… “but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.” I DO believe that. Of course you will get smarter if you work at it, right? The Flying Turtle had me questioning which side of mindset I was really on.

It all started with this big idea… (doesn’t it always 😁) I was just getting started with 3D printing, but felt I could 3D print a few of my Christmas gifts. One in particular caught my eye, The Flying Turtle design by AMAO. I had a couple of people in mind, my turtle loving daughters for starters. They would so appreciate The Flying Turtle’s gracious lines and fluid movement mimicking very closely the turtles they so loved. Success? No. Let’s just say Christmas has come and gone (and so has New Years actually), and as I type parts of the Flying Turtle are still being printed. I’m praying this print is it! If not, meh. 😜 What I have come to appreciate over the past couple of weeks is how incredibly important the process of learning through 3D printing can be for my students. Though I’m loving my break, as I have struggled through my own process of learning how to get the gift worthy perfect print, I have in the process begun to develop lessons to offer my 3D print loving students when I return. Am I after developing 3D printing masters out of them? No. I want to develop their growth mindset. I want them to KNOW that learning is ongoing, a process, and through the process provides a gain in knowledge, but also the tenacity to conquer ANY task successfully.

Growth mindset is a verb, not a noun. It is a living-breathing action taking place at every intersection between failure and success. Walk away, quit, throw the parts and toss in the towel and you are a live example of a fixed mindset. You’ve accepted defeat and confirmed your ongoing belief that you didn’t have it in you to learn something as challenging as 3D printing. (Please say you will never do that!) Scratch your head, ponder the results, know there has to be a better way, re-open the slicer settings and question every layer and where it went wrong and you are a mighty growth mindsetted (new word) warrior! Isn’t the latter what we want in our students?

In my dream world (and every now and then in real life), I have students who spite the hard setbacks, they push on, never giving up. So important is that they believe they can… (fill in the blank). With effort, that they will learn, improve, and succeed. Relatively new to 3D printing, I have a true appreciation for the amazing growth mindset lessons it provides. 3D printing will challenge the most trained person and regardless of the skill level is a great activity for allowing students to learn just how successful they can be. Full disclosure. This was not, is not, and will not be an easy process. I have been frustrated, maybe cursed a bit, walked away for sanity and then returned for more. Intent on ending in a successful print, I push on and in this process, I improve. This is exactly what I want from my students. I want them willing to persevere, to understand effort will make them better, that learning is never done, that in time they WILL improve and gain the confidence to ultimately take on even more.

The process is the important part. Having the patience, tenacity, and emotional fortitude to continue is what matters most. If I can promote that and my students grow in those (and the related) skills then I am one happy teacher. So thank you Flying Turtle and AMAO for providing me the opportunity to grow my own growth mindset and develop habits that I can now pass on.

The process and what I learned: First print mindset? Yes! I did it… but. Top level was really rough, joints were tight and didn’t move freely. The head was seized and not able to raise or lower. Hmmm. Love that I was able to get a finished print, but I want better. It is not gift worthy.

Day 1 – First print

In no time at all, as I attempted to free the joints and the head, I broke the back leg. OMG 😲. An 8 hour print and back to square one. Since I was going to print it again, I needed to adjust my slicer settings and get a better print.

Next round I lowered my layer height to 1.6 mm in order to smooth the finish and increased the infill percentage to 40%, which is fairly high. Many 3D boards discussed 20% being sufficient, BUT this print has many small pieces that snap together and they did not have the strength needed to hold up under pressure once all parts were attached. It worked! Sort of… the finish was improved, the small parts did stop snapping off, but adding infill percentage and lowering the layer height added significant amount of print time. In the effort to save time, I removed support and the raft. The edges curled up and support was clearly needed. Challenge accepted.

At this point, I switched from one slicer to another. I typically use Simplify3D to create my .gcode files prepared for print. After much research on Google in the effort to troubleshoot print issues, I kept running across forums discussing the amazing “Intent Profiles” which just released on Cura. Many folks 3D printing miniatures spoke very highly of these profile settings for detail and strength. Exactly what I needed. Time to try them out. I downloaded Cura and loaded the Dynamic quality profile. Surely this was the answer. Nope. Now let me insert here my new appreciation for Cura. It was at this point in the process that I underwent several iterations of profile settings. Cura offers a finite amount of profile options and I attempted many. Some I found great success 90% of the print, but where all things 90% would dial in, the 10% was a deal breaker. Multiple 2-year-old tantrums happened during this process.

Layers within the prints would not attach. Arms were broke due to extreme adhesion after waiting 10 hours for a print. In response, I added rafts which then the layer just after the raft did not significantly attach. Ditched the raft, and adjusted the print bed to get a better adhesion. After waiting 4.5 hours for the finished print, it would stick so hard to my print bed that it would tear off the first few layers as I removed it. 😡 Next round, print failed so grand that the melted PLA backed up into and around the nozzle to the degree that I had to take the fan housing off to correct it. In this process, Gorilla Glue became my best friend. My fur friend, Jolie, took 2nd place. (Shh don’t tell her.) But it wasn’t all a loss. Finish remained improved, strength was also still better, and now the joints of the turtle and gears were moving completely free. Improvement.

Making progress. I returned to Simplify3D. Not because I have anything any longer against Cura. I had just discovered auto-configuation in Simplify3D and realized the “high” quality setting had everything pre-set that I was looking for. What I missed in Cura was the “ironing”, where it lessons the layer height and increases temperature and adds one last pass over the finish. That leaves really nice finish!

That last find was the one. I’ve now been able to make some significant progress. I am five turtles in with an amazing amount of learning. Amazon has gotten visits to add a couple more spools of PLA. Gears are operating smoothly and the Flying Turtle gracefully mimics his kissing cousins of the ocean.