[Image: Ultimaker]

Today, Ultimaker released the Ultimaker Design Engine Starter Pack, a card game made for educators, just in time for the new school year. The game was created by Lizabeth Arum and Matt Griffin of the Ultimaker NA Community Team. I had the privilege of play testing the card game and I found it to be a heck of a lot of fun. Last year, I participated in GAMESMASH – The Game Design and Fabrication Challenge, which Ultimaker co-sponsored wth Griffin presenting, so I had high hopes for the Ultimaker Design Engine Starter Pack. I wasn’t disappointed. The game promotes creativity and I believe it will be valuable not only for students, but for makers of all ages. Indeed, it was a diverse group at the play test session, which took place at NYU Tandon School of Engineering. It has even inspired me to come up with some new designs. And as an educator, I can can see the value of adding the game to a class curriculum. As Ultimaker North America Director of Community Matt Griffin explains:

“The Starter Pack aims to activate participants to create wild, spur of the moment projects. And we found that educators are able to use these adhoc exercises to strike a nice balance between easy-to-complete, school day projects and ambitious, semester-long student projects.”

One of my teammates presented our design at the play test. [Image: Andrew Baker]

Educators who volunteered to play test the game were duly impressed with its features. They had a blast and in speaking with them, I sensed that they saw great potential for using the game in their classes. And the play testers were eager to share their feedback with Arum and Griffin.

“After playing the Ultimaker game and judging student presentations after they played the game, my mind was whirring with all the possibilities this game has to offer,” says Jan Abernethy, East Elementary, Greenville, PA. “From using it as a brain break to using it for a complete invention innovation project, the Ultimaker game gives teachers the tools to teach and reinforce STEAM on a daily basis.”

The Starter Pack features ​over​ ​50​ ​challenges,​ ​60​ ​parameters,​ ​20​ ​modeling​ ​modifiers,​ ​and​ ​an​ ​expansion​ ​pack,​ ​so every time you play the game you are bound to get something different and that should lead to some very interesting designs. The game is a powerful tool than can be deployed for an entire class or used by individual students. It can help generate scores of new projects, fueling a deeper exploration into the use of desktop 3D printers. Educators can use the cards with the Starter Round rules to promote a quick brainstorming activity or use the cards as a starting point for a long term project that includes research, prototyping, and documentation. In fact, Arum and Griffin devised the game specifically to address requests from educators for tools to help students to create new works from their own imaginations to help motivate them through the process of mastering desktop 3D printing.

“We have often seen how after a few initial projects that introduce students to 3D printing—like making key fobs, name tags or by downloading pre-existing files to print or modify—educators are at a loss for what comes next,” says Arum. “We wanted to find a solution for how they can help their students take advantage of the promise of desktop 3D printing — a general purpose tool they can use to create original designs.”

While the Starter Pack includes instructions for several common approaches for how to use the cards in an educational context, the Ultimaker team anticipates that the uses and “flavors of play” will vary greatly depending on the specific aims of the participants, and welcome the evolution of the program throughout the campaign. And there are additional resources for expanding gameplay. Included in the set are a series of warm up cards that can be used as class assignments. One warm up challenge, “The Great Edge Hunt,” asks participants to go on a fillet and chamfer scavenger hunt. Another, “8bit Glory,” asks you to create a low-poly version of a favorite design.

“One of the most valuable elements of the Starter Pack is completely separate from the gameplay elements,” Arum says. “The set includes 50 contributed project cards from educators who have successfully incorporated 3D printing into their curricula. Projects range from beginner to intermediate to advanced and are categorized by age of intended audience, subject, and whether they are activities or teaching objects. All contributed project cards link to more information so that educators can use this information as inspiration for their own lessons.”

[Image: Ultimaker]

Ultimaker.com will be hosting weekly online challenges starting on September 5th, lasting eight weeks to allow online community participation and as a means to introduce the cards and build excitement surrounding them. Educators and other online community members can visit Ultimaker.com starting September 5th for the rules and prizes, including the opportunity to compete to win an Ultimaker 3D printer!

Additionally, Ultimaker is working with their North American reseller partners to offer a free Ultimaker Design Engine Starter Pack with every new machine ordered from September 1st to December 31st, 2017 (or until Starter Pack supplies run out). The offer is exclusively for customers of Ultimaker’s North American resellers. Ultimaker has long been a leader in desktop 3D printing. The inclusion of the Starter Pack is sure to help their customers to get the most out of their machines. It’s great for getting the creative juices flowing, and I’m certainly going to make great use of it.SaveSave

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