One political party is ready to take the plunge with an enormous pledge to education with the offer of 3D printers, software, and training for every high school in Victoria, Australia; however, this technological and educational luxury hinges on re-election of Denis Napthine and the Coalition government. The 47th State Premier has sworn to invest AU$2.2 million (that would be around US$1.9 million, roughly) to giving 3D printers to schools, if he is re-elected on November 29.
Having been criticized by the oppositional Labor Party as offering this too late in the game after ‘four years of underinvestment in Victorian schools,’ many are able to see the promise of such innovative technology as an attempt to prepare students with necessary skills already required in many of today’s jobs in the STEM areas. Napthine’s promise would fund real-world skills that propel kids further in STEM education, as 3D printing encompasses all STEM areas of science, technology, engineering, and math.
Labor’s education spokesman, James Merlino, commented that “Denis Napthine continues to play catch-up on education in this state with no vision for the future of our kids.” It is worth pointing out though that the program Napthine hopes to be able to fund is a continuation of the program provided by educational company Quantum Victoria over the last year. The government funded Quantum Victoria program offers students and teachers the basics in 3D printing through teaching them to use CAD software to design objects and then showing them how to use 3D printers to produce their objects or prototypes.
“This program will nurture student creativity and scientific endeavour, and help to create the next generation of cutting-edge scientists, designers, and manufacturers,” said Napthine.
Hoping that sweetens the deal for voters concerned about education, Napthine is promising AU$3,750 (roughly US$3,300) per school to buy the printers and associated equipment for 316 high schools and P-12 schools, and 75 special schools with secondary students. With the Quantum Victoria model, their hopes are to increase skills in:
- Design ‘thinking’ and modification
- Technologiy and digital fluency
Software and training for teachers is included in this high technology package. “The 3D printer is the way of the future,” he said. “We believe having exposure of students to 3D printers will inspire them.”
Napthine, a member of the Victorian Legislative Assembly, represents the electoral district of the South-West Coast. He was elected leader of the Parliamentary Liberal Party on March 6, 2013. While his party is currently slightly behind the Labor Party in the race, it remains to be seen how politics will play out for Napthine, and whether or not funding for 3D printing will be available to keep on expanding the minds of Victoria’s schoolchildren.
“Under a Coalition government every secondary school in Victoria, that is a government secondary school, would be given a 3D printer so these students get 21st-century exposure to new ideas and new opportunities,” said Napthine.
What do you think of mixing 3D printing and politics? Tell us your thoughts in the Political Promises of 3D Printing in Victoria’s Schools forum at 3DPB.com.