Education and 3D printing go together like peanut butter and futuristic jelly, which people haven’t tried yet, but once they do, will love it. Every technology has to be helped along in the initial stages, so that the barrier of unfamiliarity can be overcome. That’s where we are right now as 3D printers promise to change the way children learn; in a big way.
Only recently have companies, particularly Stratasys’ Makerbot, begun targeting schools and teachers as their next growth markets. Makerbot has been spending a tremendous amount of time trying to get their Replicators into the hands of students nationwide. They have had a varying degree of success, as teachers are not trained on these devices, and the curriculum around the technology is somewhat lacking. As the months progress, however, we are seeing an increase in adoption rates, particularly among high schools around the country.
3D Systems, up until now, had stayed on the sidelines for the most part within the education space. That’s until today, when they announced their Digital Literacy program, powered by 3D Printing for K-12 Education. With this sweeping initiative, they have launched there MAKE.DIGITAL website. MAKE.DIGITAL features curriculum resources and product bundles for STEAM learning, and seeks to bring 3D printing into the classroom in a simple, impactful way. According to their press release, it will, “Provide students with 21st century tools and 3D technology to hone innovation and creativity skills, learn real-world problem solving through project-based learning, and ultimately compete in the global economy.”
With this initiative, they have teamed with several companies, which include Einstein Fellows, IDEA Co., FIRST Robotics, and Alliance for Young Artists & Writers. Each partner will provide integral features to 3D Systems’ MAKE.DIGITAL plans, which includes the following:
- IDEA Co. will be contributing their City X Project, which is a free curriculum and toolkit that can be downloaded. It teaches design and prototyping to students in grades 8-12. Cube 3D printers are used to print out finished prototypes that students will have to create.
- FIRST Robotics has teamed with 3D Systems to offer 400 3D printers to teams of students across the country.
- Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, has teamed with 3D Systems to offer an award of three Cube 3D printers to students in grades 7-12 who are tasked with using new technologies to express bold, new ideas.
- Einstein Fellows will provide a vast array of co-developed curriculum modules for grades K-12. This curriculum will include training on Cube 3D printers, as well as Cubify design software.
This move will put 3D Systems in a strong position within the education space. Just like Apple got a foothold within the PC industry, by catering towards high schools and colleges in the late 90’s, the companies which can infiltrate the hearts and minds of the youth on this planet will likely insure long term success, and loyalty. Further details on MAKE.DIGITAL as well as discussion with those in the education space can be found at the 3DPB.com forum thread.