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Fysica 2017: 3D printing and VR in the classroom

20 April 2017

This year’s annual conference of the Netherlands Physical Society, Fysica 2017 , was held at Oosterpoort in Groningen. The conference featured lectures on the latest physics research, a keynote by Ben Feringa and a ‘Physics Meets Art’ evening programme, and looked at new technology for use in the classroom.

Information stand at Fysica 2017 | Photo Winand Slingenbergh
Information stand at Fysica 2017 | Photo Winand Slingenbergh

3D printers and Virtual Reality were particular themes of the conference, with each of the over 300 attendees being issued with a pair of VR glasses (Google Cardboard) upon arrival. They could wear these to watch 360 films and to be in the same room as Professor Steven Hoekstra’s molecule inhibitor and University of Groningen Nobel Prize winner Ben Feringa’s nanocar . This gave the attendees an idea of how VR can be used as a communication tool, for research and in the classroom.

Thanks to its collaboration with Science LinX, Fablab in Groningen has plenty of experience using 3D printers in the classroom. In the parallel sessions, Winand Slingenbergh told physics teachers from all over the country what the biggest mistakes are that you can make here. In the second half of the session the attendees were given the opportunity to talk to teachers, students and alumni at the information stalls and thus find out more about current projects and how teachers can receive support from Netwerk Noord’s Docent Ontwikkel Teams , in which teachers develop teaching materials together.


The attendees were also given the opportunity design their own VR environment in HTC Vive . Although this hardware is currently too expensive to use in the classroom, the attendees were glad of the opportunity to see what will be possible in the future.

Experimenting with VR | Photo Winand Slingenbergh
Experimenting with VR | Photo Winand Slingenbergh

Other presentations at Fysica 2017 included one given by teacher Jan van der Schans about the latest developments relating to the eLABS, labs with 3D printers and laser cutters for the O2G2 school network in Groningen, and one in which University of Groningen alumnus Jan Bakker explained how he had used 3D printers to print mouthpieces for a trombone. In his presentation, Technasium pupil Siebren van Schueren explained that he is using 3D to make unusually shaped lenses for infrared telescopes. Another Technasium pupil, Thijs van Beers, spoke about his experiences on placement at the Digital Art Factory in Assen and the app that he wrote that can export models from a 3D design environment into VR.

Developments in 3D printing and VR are happening at the speed of light and any recommendations are soon outdated. We therefore recommend joining the events on the Netwerk Noord agenda to ensure that you keep up to date with how this technology can be used in the classroom.

Article: Winand Slingenbergh

Last modified:02 May 2017 10.04 a.m.
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