Web exclusive, April 1, 2013
BEEM brings 3-D printer—and more—to BHCS
Annual fundraiser set for April 5
From left, BHCS technology instructor Matt Jurick and tech team members Ben Politte and Jack McKechnie display the MakerBot 3-D printer purchased through a grant from BEEM.
by Anne Berleant
Blue Hill Educational Enrichment Monies, or BEEM, is giving away money, most recently $7,250 in January when it awarded the Blue Hill Consolidated School six grants for musical, technical and sports equipment, and student team-building activities.
That was one month after it gave them $2,500 for a 3-D printer.
“I wouldn’t feel comfortable using taxpayers’ dollars for something like that when we’re bare bones in other areas,” said technology instructor Matt Jurick.
The nonprofit organization, started in 1992 to supplement a cut budget, channels resources through a grant process.
“We encourage teachers to not let the school budget confine their curriculum,” said Samantha Politte, chairman of the BEEM board. “We don’t come up with the ideas. The teachers do.”
To date, BEEM has given almost $100,000 in grants to BHCS, said Politte.
But asking doesn’t equal immediate approval. BHCS technology instructor Matt Jurick applied for $2,500 for a 3-D printer, still cutting-edge technology but with a dropping price tag.
“I took it to them in October,” Jurick said. “They tabled it and asked me to do more homework.”
Jurick gave a thorough demonstration of the MakerBot 3-D printer in December and the board approved the grant, with the caveat that it be made available to the community as well as the school.
“Word’s getting around,” Jurick said.
Since January, middle school students have the option of a 3-D design class under Jurick’s instruction.
“I’ve given each of them a Lego and a ruler,” he said. “We’re starting small—they have to recreate the Lego in 3-D.”
The tech team is getting more creative, as they demonstrated to school board members on March 21, displaying a multi-gear heart, a link chain and other 3-D objects, all while the printer created a replica of the Schoodic sculpture that sits on the town dock.
“You can go really in depth,” said tech team member Ben Politte.
The printer uses spools of plant-based plastic string to build the 3-D objects designed using software loaded onto a computer.
When the tech team wanted a second spool to use with the printer, they designed one and had the printer create it.
“We encourage teachers to think outside the box,” said Politte.
It has come to our attention that some people think this story is an April Fool’s joke. It’s not! The BHCS received more than $2,500 from Blue Hill Educational Enrichment Monies for a 3-D printer and another $7,250 for musical, technical and sports equipment and more. BEEM has been around since 1992 and has given almost $100,000 in grants to BHCS.