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Most people alive today won’t ever get the chance to go to space – that’s just a fact. Most of us aren’t astronauts, or wealthy enough to catch a ride on a space tourism flight, and that’s okay. But today’s kids are getting the chance to experience space without ever leaving Earth, thanks to sophisticated simulation technology like that employed by the Challenger Center. The leading STEM organization offers students a chance to get hands-on experience in an environment simulating a Mission Control Room and Space Station, as well as offering other STEM curricula to classrooms and its network of Challenger Learning Centers around the country.

Several of those Challenger Learning Centers will soon be equipped with new 3D printers thanks to a partnership between the Challenger Center and New Matter, manufacturer of the MOD-t 3D printer, first introduced in 2014. The MOD-t is well suited to classroom 3D printing, thanks to its simplicity, quietness and inexpensive price tag, and the company remains committed to in-class technology. Over the course of the next several months, New Matter and the Challenger Center will announce the first three Learning Centers to be awarded 3D printers, beginning in late June. Each center will receive five MOD-t printers.

“New Matter is a natural partner for Challenger Center and we’re excited to begin our work together,” said Lance Bush, President and CEO, Challenger Center. “We share a commitment to providing innovative, hands-on experiences that spark a passion for learning in students. The MOD-t was developed and designed for teachers and students and we’re eager to see our Challenger Learning Center educators implement these remarkably easy-to-use and elegant printers into programs with their local students.”

To determine which Learning Centers would receive 3D printers, a competition was launched asking each of the 43 centers to submit proposals detailing how they would use the printers – in makerspaces, in classroom curricula, or in the implementation of new programs. According to New Matter and the Challenger Center, they received several highly creative entries, including ideas for 3D printing summer camps and simulated space missions incorporating 3D printing.

“At New Matter, our mission is to use 3D printing to bridge the digital and physical worlds, and we’re thrilled to begin our partnership with Challenger Center,” said Steve Schell, CEO and Co-Founder, New Matter. “Educational environments are the ideal settings for the MOD-t and we’re pleased that tens of thousands of students and their teachers will soon be able to experience the printers in Centers across the country. Given the increasing national desire to go deeper into space – to Mars and beyond – and the widely accepted understanding that 3D printing will be key to that exploration, we’re also especially proud that New Matter will play a role in those missions by helping to shape the young minds that will eventually lead them.”

According to New Matter, the MOD-t is one of the quietest desktop 3D printers available, so even with five of them running, it still won’t be disruptive to lessons or to simultaneous programs going on. A look at some of the Challenger Lesson Plans on the Challenger Center’s website is a good indication that no matter which centers are awarded 3D printers, they will get good use out of them – several lessons include assignments for building robots or constructing models of planets, meteors, or even extraterrestrial creatures.

Space exploration and 3D printing go together frequently these days, so having 3D printers in the Challenger Learning Centers will do more than just enhance their lessons – they will teach children valuable skills in 3D design and printing. And if any of those kids are inspired by their time at the Learning Centers to pursue careers in space exploration, those are skills they’re definitely going to need. Discuss in the New Matter Challenger forum at 3DPB.com.

 





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