Few things can fire people up more than the thrill of a competition. There are some folks who just play games or participate in activities to have fun, but then there are the people who are in it to win it. It’s the same impulse that causes me to literally yell out any of the answers that I happen to know if I’m watching Jeopardy…because apparently it doesn’t count if I just say the answer, like a normal person. We’ve seen all kinds of 3D printing contests, like 3D printed pasta contests, contests for objects that can be used in outer space, and even a 3D printed gummy candy contest. But some of the best I’ve seen are the 3D printing contests with educational roots, like the Shapeways EDU Grant Contest for college students and Dremel’s recent #LearnMakeGive contest.
In August of 2016, popular 3D printer manufacturer Ultimaker, which places a lot of importance of education, launched its Pioneer Program, which is all about promoting STEM education. The program invites educators to share their 3D printing experience and work on the new Ultimaker Education site with other ‘pioneers.’ Soon after the program’s inception, the company went one step further, and launched the Ultimaker Education Challenge, which was sponsored by Ultimaker’s Pioneer Program partner, the European Investment Bank (EIB).
The questions that the challenge posed were aimed at passionate educators who were interested in creating an “inspirational 3D printing-related project.”
- Do you challenge your students to get the best out of themselves?
- Do you believe it’s vital to let them discover their talents and learn through exploration and experimentation?
The stakes were high: all of the challenge winners will receive either an Ultimaker 2+ or an Ultimaker 3 for their educational institution, along with training and a year’s supply of filament. Winners will also be invited to join the Pioneer Program. The challenge stated that educators simply needed to create a 3D print-related project with their students, no matter the students’ age. It didn’t need to be a big, or world-altering project, as long as the teachers were focused on inspiring their students to be creative makers, and keeping them actively engaged in learning. Contest entrants were encouraged to view 3D printing as a transformative tool. Ultimaker says it’s “only through learning that the next generation can explore the technology of the future.”
Contest entrants did need to stick to a few guidelines: projects had to actually be feasible within a school environment, students needed to work together in teams, and the project had to be STEAM-related for students 16 and younger. Entrants also needed to provide a brief project summary, and include the following:
- Age range that the project is intended for
- How many students the project is intended for
- Which learning goals are being met / which themes are being covered?
- Which subject does it relate to?
- What additional materials are needed?
- How much time is needed to plan / prepare?
The challenge yielded an amazing response, with over 250 entrants who sent in their inspirational 3D print-related project designs and ideas, and according to Ultimaker, the entries “were of an exceptionally high standard.” The jury of judges was made up of Ultimaker’s Marcella van den Burg, Aric Rindfleisch from the Illinois MakerLab, and Julia Haried from Maker Girl. The list of challenge winners were announced during the BETT Show in London this week (where Y Soft is showcasing its YSoft be3D eDee 3D printing management solution). As there were over 50 very lucky winners, I will not be listing them all here, but you can find the full list on the Ultimaker blog post about the contest.
The Pioneer program celebrates Ultimaker’s love of education, and there are currently over 50 educational establishments involved. Thanks to EIB’s help, the program will soon be expanding to Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Pioneers can share lessons, articles, tutorials, and blog posts about their teaching experience, but still hold the Creative Commons licensing of their content. Ultimaker supports its Pioneers by creating networking opportunities and challenges like this one, featuring Pioneers’ work, and offering useful, educational 3D printing materials.
“The power to encourage truly brilliant minds rests in the hands of great educators,” said Pioneer Aubree Stephens. “My hope is that through collaboration, we will be able to lay the foundation for resources and curricula that encourage curiosity and innovation from all students.”
To keep apprised of further Pioneer Program challenges, as well as the latest educational tips and resources, just visit Ultimaker Education.
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