For the last two years, desktop 3D printer mainstay MakerBot has had a special focus on education, from helping current professionals further their 3D printing skills to introducing a new 3D printer that was geared toward professional and educational users. The company has opened many of its MakerBot Innovation Centers in high schools and universities across the country, and its 3D printers are also being put to good use in classrooms overseas.
Of course, teachers can’t properly teach their students about 3D printing if they themselves don’t know much about the technology. Thingiverse Education, owned by MakerBot, makes it easy for teachers to get access to over 400 innovative 3D printing lesson plans and other learning tools, but the company has also been helping educators learn more about 3D printing usage in the classroom, with the introductions of its cloud-based My MakerBot 3D printing platform for Google Chromebook classrooms and helpful grant resource guide last year.
MakerBot’s 3D printing technology is in over 7,000 schools so far, but it’s not done yet – the industry leader in 3D printing for education recognizes that it’s not always easy to implement 3D printing in the classroom. That’s why it’s worked so hard to develop innovative solutions for teachers, and administrators, that are a step above reliable hardware and simple software.
“After years of working directly with educators, we’ve learned that one of the most challenging parts to using 3D printers in the classroom isn’t learning new technology or design skills, it’s having high quality, classroom-ready 3D printing lesson plans built around them,” MakerBot wrote.
With this in mind, the company is now launching a new, comprehensive 3D printing certification program, called the MakerBot Certification Program, which trains educators to become 3D printing experts. The program, which is available for purchase now, trains teachers on how to actually operate MakerBot 3D printers, as well as how to develop their own 3D printing curriculum.
MakerBot is providing content for the growing 3D printing community, and giving educators a way to learn important skills that can take a typical curriculum and change it into innovative, 21st century STEAM projects and lesson plans. Then, they can share their ideas and projects on a provided portal before learning even more on Thingiverse Education.
However, you can’t just stop after you’ve supported teachers at the classroom level only – there are strict requirements, which can vary depending on the state, from district level administrators for the types of training and professional development (PD) their teachers are required to have. So MakerBot went a step further and tested its new Certification Program in collaboration with teachers and administrators from the NYC Department of Education, then further developed the educational program in order to address some of the common PD standards across the US.
There are two ways that teachers can become certified in 3D printing through MakerBot’s program. The first consists of a series of self-paced, online courses from MakerBot University that will first teach users how to become operators, and then how to create curriculum.
The second method consists of in-person training, and is currently only available at MakerBot’s Brooklyn headquarters, though the company is starting partnerships around the country so it can offer the program locally elsewhere. This blended workshop course combines online classwork from MakerBot University with a five-hour-long, hands-on training session from MakerBot 3D printing experts. Once a user has completed all of the mandatory assignments, they earn their certificate.
There are two levels, starting with Level 1, which is called “MakerBot Operator: Become a MakerBot 3D Printing Expert.” This level teaches users how to set up and manage their MakerBot 3D printer, the history of 3D printing, basic troubleshooting skills, how to create their first prints, and all about Thingiverse and 3D modeling.
Level 2, “MakerBot Curriculum Creator: Become a STEM Education Leader,” teaches users how to gain confidence and establish themselves at leaders in STEM education. They will learn how to teach 3D printing, how to create 3D printing student projects and lesson plans, and how to troubleshoot students’ files, along with how to manage multiple 3D printers and how to use Thingiverse Education.
The online course costs $99 for 5-10 hours of instruction, while the blended course of 5-10 online hours and 5 hands-on hours costs $199.
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