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makerbot-logo-kickstarter-1.originalIt’s been two years since President Obama hosted the first ever White House Maker Faire and launched his Nation of Makers initiative back in 2014. Noting the fact that more Americans have gained access to inexpensive desktop machining tools like 3D printers, laser cutters and user-friendly CAD software, the goal was to encourage both students and adults to join the growing maker movement. With such easy access to desktop manufacturing, open source technology and free online resources like wiki pages and crowdfunding services, more people than ever can design and build a whole new generation of products and technologies. As you would expect, the first responders to these kinds of opportunities are educators who have been working tirelessly to bring more STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) education into our nation’s classrooms.

This summer MakerBot is continuing their ongoing effort to encourage STEAM education and help educators gain access to necessary educational resources by hosting a series of STEAM Makeathons all over the country. Last week, in honor of the upcoming National Week of Making from June 17th to the 23rd, they held their latest Makeathon in Washington, D.C. They brought together groups of educators to collaborate on 3D printing projects and STEAM lesson plans. The goal of the two-day event was to develop new ways to inspire young tinkerers, designers, builders, and makers. The MakerBot team hosted sessions devoted to 3D design, 3D modeling, 3D printing, and basic maker activities.

Educators in Washington DC developing 3D printing projects.

Educators in Washington DC developing 3D printing projects.

Just as with all of their Makeathon events held throughout the country this summer, the MakerBot team split the attending educators into groups and tasked them with creating exciting 3D printing projects for their classrooms. The groups would then go on to compete for prizes, including brand new MakerBot Replicator 5th Gen 3D Printers. The groups were instructed to select activities, projects or lessons that they already teach to their classes and find ways to make them better using 3D printers. Once the groups completed their 3D printing projects they presented them to the entire group for evaluation. Then all of the educators voted on the strongest projects that they believed would be inspiring to their students.

The winning team "States of Confusion".

The winning team, States of Confusion.

The first place project was awarded to the States of Confusion team who developed an Elevator of Terror lesson plan. It was aimed at 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students who would be using pulleys to move a small elevator. The project would rely on the students determining the optimal gear ratio that would more efficiently raise and lower the elevator. The students would need to use both modeling skills and their ability to accurately take measurements to create the correct size and ratio of the gears. Each member of the winning team took home their own MakerBot Replicator 3D Printer.

Second place was awarded to the BB8 Maker Sabers group who created the BB-8 Jedi Joust challenge. In order to win, the students would need to learn how to program a Sphero, the robotic technology used by the BB-8 droid in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, so it would be capable of navigating through an obstacle course. Engineering concepts like balance, symmetry, friction, weight and pivoting would all be required to complete the course. Each member of the second place team took home an Ozobot Starter Pack and a copy of MakerBot’s 3D printing educational handbook, MakerBot in the Classroom.

Educators learned how to use 3D printers during the makeathon.

Educators learned how to use 3D printers during the Makeathon.

The Stellar Excellers team tied with the BB8 Maker Sabers for second place with their Making History project. This project was designed specifically with 4th grade students in mind. Each student team would be asked to research a long-gone culture from the past and then design and fabricate what they believed would be a cultural icon from that time period. The model would be designed in Autodesk Tinkercad and then presented with the historical data that inspired their design. They won the same prizes as the other second place project. All of the Makeathon projects that were developed at all of the national events have been uploaded to Thingiverse in the Summer STEAM Makeathon Group where any educators can access them for their own classes. Discuss further in the MakerBot 3D Printing Makeathon in Washington, D.C. forum over at 3DPB.com.

[Source/Images: MakerBot]
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