I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: teachers work really hard every single day for their students, to foster a learning environment that is safe, interesting, and educational. From elementary school all the way up through college and university, schools around the world need to invest in the education of their students, and sometimes that means implementing the newest technology, including 3D printing. This technology is one of the more effective, and popular, ways to get students excited about learning problem solving, building, and design skills. Thingiverse Education, owned by MakerBot, makes it easy for teachers to get access to innovative 3D printing lesson plans and other learning tools.
Unfortunately, many schools have limited budgets, and it can be difficult to get the necessary approval and appropriate funding to build makerspaces and acquire classroom 3D printers, scanners, and software programs. However, it’s not impossible: lots of institutions turn to education grants, like GE’s Additive Education Program, to fund their programs and get students access to the technology. But how do you know which grant is the right one for your school? Where do you start looking? MakerBot, which just a few months ago declared education one of its two key areas of focus, decided to give educators a leg up on this sometimes complex process, and developed a Grant Resource Guide to make things a little easier.
MakerBot’s Grant Resource Guide takes all the confusion out of searching and applying for the 3D printing education grants you need, so you can fund 3D printers for your school. To start, you need to enter some simple information, including contact information and your relevant industry, along with how you would like to use a 3D printer (for work, education, or personal use). For access to the full guide, just enter your details and hit submit – easy as Pi (not pie, we are talking about education, after all!).
There are lots of grant options available on MakerBot’s organized list. For example, the Educators of America grants are awarded to teachers who need assistance from an effective technological tool, such as 3D printing technology, to better their students’ achievement in class. The Voya Unsung Heroes Grants are awarded to K-12 public schools which focus on STEM education, and educators need to describe the projects they want to pursue, or have already begun; the projects are then judged on creativity, innovative method, and ability to positively influence students. Some grants are only for schools and programs in certain parts of the country, like the Monsanto Fund Math and Science Education Grant in St. Louis, and the APS/Phoenix Suns Mini-Grant Program in Arizona. The LEGO Community Fund Grant, for the Connecticut area only, is awarded to programs which benefit children up to age 14, in the areas of creative problem solving and learning. If you’re looking for a higher education grant, the America Honda Foundation awards grants to colleges and universities that focus on STEM education.
To learn more about the Grant Guide and the impetus behind its creation, we turned to the source, asking A Few Questions For Drew Lentz, MakerBot Learning Manager. Lentz filled us in on some of the background of the Grant Guide.
What inspired the collection of the grants?
“We hear all the time from teachers that they’re ready to introduce 3D printing, but haven’t secured the funding yet. These grants are all centered around 21st century skills and preparing students for future careers.”
How does awareness of/access to grant applications affect 3D printing in the classroom?
Was there any specific focus in selecting these particular grants/grant areas?
“Awareness around how important makerspaces can be in education has increased lately, but funding them can be difficult. The schools and libraries I talk to who are eager to create collaborative and supportive workspaces for children rarely have all of the funding they need to fully execute. Grants are critical to bridging this gap.”
“Our MakerBot Educator program was especially useful in selecting these grants. We have a direct line to the teachers who have already successfully funded their 3D printers and makerspaces, and they helped us identify a strong list of grants they easily secured in the past.”
Any advice for educators/administrators thinking about applying for a grant?
“Whatever technology you’re looking to acquire, make sure you take the time to fully consider how it can be implemented. Lots of grants today are looking for multi-disciplinary implementation from new initiatives so they can offer as much value to the institution as possible.
For example, people know that 3D printing is a strong tool for engineering and robotics classes, but not as many know that it can be valuable in supporting art programs, history classes, and libraries. Going the extra step to do more research and plan additional programs that can benefit from the technology helps make a stronger case to secure funding.”