Background This study developed an integrated-STEM CO2 dragster design course using 3D printing technology. Material and methods After developing a pre-engineering curriculum, we conducted a teaching experiment to assess students’ differences in creativity, race forecast accuracy, and learning performance. We compared student performance in both 3D printing and manual creation of dragsters. One hundred and eighty-two participants in five classes of Grade 10 participated in this study. Results The results of the teaching experiment showed that students who used a 3D printer significantly outperformed those students who made their dragsters by hand in terms of both the novelty and sophistication of their dragsters. The students in the 3D printing group were able to forecast the outcomes of the race significantly more accurately than those in the group who made theirs by hand were. No significant difference in learning performance was found in the two groups. Conclusions Based on these experimental results, the development of the curriculum and hands-on activities and the teaching recommendations were revised. This research has an impact on offering an effective approach to the design and implementation of digital manufacturing and pre-engineering curricula in the future.
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