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One of the greatest educational applications of 3D printing technology is making it available, via maker centers and after schools clubs, to young people who would otherwise not have access to the technology. A recent example of one such program is the Red Hook, Brooklyn 3D printed boat regatta that was organized by young people enrolled in Red Hook Initiative’s Digital Stewardship Program. This program is a job training program focused on exposing young people to new technologies in a supportive environment that seeks to place them in internships and eventually permanent tech sector employment. The key to a program like this is that it recognizes the growing influence that 3D printing technology is having on the job market, and it seeks to link young people up with the skills needed to thrive in this environment.

cookAnother example of one such program is a non-profit center for young people based in Sunbury, Pennsylvania. This center, which is religious based, has recently used a $20,000 donation from John’s Family Fund to renovate the three-story building that houses the center. Ian Snyder, who directs the program, is a local high school teacher who had the vision to open up the center, called The Refuge, which offers food, homework help, and general support to participating young people.

The center also offers 3D printing training. An extra  $10,000 from the John’s Family Fund was recently used to purchase three 3D printers. This kind of donation help The Refuge host fun and educational events like  Family Make Nights, the next of which will be at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 19 to make 3D printed cookie cutters.

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The center also has a music studio, and an art room is being prepared as well. This kind of integrated space featuring both technology and the arts is the wave of the future, as some young people will use technology as hackers and makers, while others will use it to enhance their primary interest in art and music. (We’ve already see some very innovative applications of 3D printing in the fine arts, and this is sure to continue.) The Refuge is definitely doing its part regarding outreach. It has served around 200 young people in the past three years, providing space for teens to play video games, do arts and crafts, learn life skills (like car maintenance and budgeting) and eat together. Just add 3D printing to that mix and you have a great, workable space for young people.

The Refuge’s Director Snyder explains:

“It’s been awesome to see how God puts it on people’s hearts. We try not to ask for money or to fundraise. It’s only when people feel led to help. It (the money) comes when we need it.”

Whether its food, homework support, life skills, or 3D printing — the people of Sunbury and Shikellamy School District (which also supports The Refuge) have created an excellent example providing young people what they need to not only survive, but thrive, as the enter young adulthood.

Let’s hear your thoughts on the use of 3D printing to better reach youth.  Discuss this story in The Refuge forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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[Photos/Source: The Daily Item]

 

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