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Makers Empire is an Australia-based company that has developed a 3D printing application for students as young as elementary age. In fact, the app was first tested by elementary-age students in Adelaide. Since then, the app has been gaining more popularity, for its user-friendly versatility, as it relates 3D printing to the greater educational STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) curriculum. News ofgar4 the  app has been getting around; we recently  reported it was recently used in Oakland, California by the New Schools Venture Fund’s New Schools Ignite technology accelerator program. And now, Makers Empire has added a fun new collaboration with none other than the dynamic feline cartoon character, Garfield. Say hello to Professor Garfield, who wants to teach you about 3D designing and printing by asking you to design him a new spaghetti utensil!

So, what’s all this talk about Garfield? He’s a Professor now, and he needs what? A spaghetti utensil? Yes, in fact. This is the premise of a new design competition that Makers Empire, the  New York Institute of Technology’s Technology Based Learning Systems (NYIT TBLS), and Professor Garfield (whose creator is cartoonist Jim Davis) bring us. If you know anything about Garfield, he loves to eat. In the beginning of the Garfield movie, he ingeniously switches his cat food for his owner Jon’s breakfast, and later, he eats almost all of the frozen dinners Jon brings home. Well now the issue is that Garfield needs a better, more creatively designed, utensil to eat his spaghetti with. And he’s asking children, ages 5-13, to help him out here.

“Garfield LOVES spaghetti-and-meatballs! But the cat always makes a mess when he eats it,” the contest explains. “What Garfield needs is a utensil — something with a clever design — to help him enjoy his pasta in a cleaner and neater way. Garfield’s sure that someone somewhere could design something to solve this problem. He’s also aware that some kids need assistance because they might not have full dexterity in their hands. Not to worry! The famous feline wants to help them as well. Students are invited to design their own spaghetti-and-meatball eating tool in 3D (for 3D printing). They’ll also be asked to describe the tool’s special features and explain why they think it’s a creative design. Garfield’s super hungry, so let’s get started!”

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The competition opened on November 9 and it ends on December 9. The basic idea is that students are invited to design a meatball-and-spaghetti eating utensil in 3D, that could be 3D printed. There are just a few basic steps to entering: download the Makers Empire app; create a design; select your design; press the “win with this design” button; enter written design details; select your age group and submit your design. Fairly straightforward. You can also opt to use other design software, which simply means you will follow the same steps after creating and exporting an .STL version of the design. Then just save an image of your entry and fill out an entry form.

gar3The competition webpage has a poster, student worksheets, and other resources for teachers who have access to 3D design software already, or who want to introduce students to 3D design through this fun app and competition.

Four different “Building the Future” Prizes will be given for ages ranging from 5-13, and two prizes for Excellence in Innovation will be given out to age groups 5-8 and 9-13. Building the Future Winners between the ages of 5-8 will receive Maker’s Essential from Free Time Academy. Ages 9-13 will receive Free Time Academy’s Arduino Essentials. For the Excellence in Innovation awards, winners will receive a Polar 3D printer, a Makers Empire 3D printing Learning Program for up to 400 Students for One Year, and a signed piece of art from Garfield’s creator, Jim Davis.

The competition ends in just under a month, so kids, get those wheels spinning and help a cat out eating one of its favorite foods! Spaghetti is stringy, so I will give you a hint to get started: consider designs where you can grab a handle, twirl it, and magically get spaghetti all twisted up at the end of the utensil like a ball of yarn — ready to be easily devoured. Keeping a focus too on kids who might not have full use of their hands, assistive spaghetti-eating utensils are also a big focus: spaghetti should be tasty and easy to eat for everyone!

Will you or your child be participating in this contest?  Let us know in the 3D Spaghetti Utensil Forum thread on 3DPB.com.

(Also be sure to note that depending on materials used, 3D printed utensils are generally not food-safe.)

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