Without a doubt, 3D printing is coming to the classroom sometime in the near future. The only question that remains is, ‘How long will it take before it’s in schools everywhere?’. Will it be a year from now? A few years? A decade? No one can really say for sure, but people can make a difference in helping it happen sooner rather than later. This is what MakerBot is doing today, with the release of their hands-on learning guide aimed at introducing 3D printing into the classroom environment.
Let’s face it, 3D printing is a cool technology, but it isn’t as easy as picking up say, an iPad. There are many technical aspects to owning and operating a 3D printer that scares the bejesus out of some people. Now put yourself in the position of a school teacher who is told he/she has to incorporate this “alien” technology into their lesson plans. It’s hard enough learning to operate a 3D printer yourself, let alone teach others how to as well. Then when you add in the related content such as 3D design, slicing, and the vast array of different filaments which all require different temperature settings, things can become rather discouraging quite quickly.
Today, MakerBot has unveiled their guide aimed at teachers and students alike, titled, ‘MakerBot in the Classroom: An Introduction to 3D Printing and Design‘, with hopes of bringing 3D printing into more classrooms around the world. The guide is broken down into three chapters which focus on all the important and vital aspects of 3D printing.
The first section covers how MakerBot 3D printers work, as well as the technological terms that go along with the technology, and how the technology generally works. The second section dives a little bit deeper into the process of 3D printing. It explains how to download designs, scan in objects, and design objects yourself. The third and final section is where the fun gets started. It provides teachers and students with various projects that they can try in their own classrooms, including directions on how to design an object using various free 3D design software, such as OpenSCAD, 123D Design, Tinkered, and Sculptris.
“3D printing is a powerful tool in the classroom and provides engaging experiences that motivate students to excel. 3D printing can help teach many of the 21st century skills that employers are looking for, such as STEAM literacy, collaboration, problem-solving and applying knowledge to the real world,” explained Jonathan Jaglom, CEO of MakerBot. “We’re excited to launch MakerBot in the Classroom to help even more educators and students discover the power of 3D printing to create original designs. This handbook is part of our broader MakerBot Education initiative, which aims to provide teachers, professors, librarians, and students with access to the resources and tools they need to embrace 3D printing. We will continue to work together with educators to build out the leading MakerBot 3D Ecosystem to address their specific needs.”
A digital copy of the guide is available completely free to all registered MakerBot customers, and a sample chapter is available to anyone who registers on MakerBot’s website. In addition to the guide, MakerBot is also launching the “MakerBot Education Resource Center” which includes even more ideas and resources for using 3D printing in schools. It includes real-world stories, as well as challenges, videos and more.
The release of this guide should hopefully help bring 3D printing into more schools around the world, while MakerBot certainly hopes it also helps them increase sales of their machines. With this guide, more schools will feel confident in purchasing a MakerBot 3D printer over that of their competition, due to the fact that a MakerBot machine now comes with this comprehensive guide to get them started.
It should be interesting to see if other 3D printer manufacturers begin following suit with the release of their own classroom-targeted publications. With Autodesk yesterday announcing Project Ignite, an education initiative for the Maker Movement, 3D printing is about to get a huge boost within the learning arena. What do you think? Will this initiative and strategy on behalf of MakerBot help bring 3D printers to more schools around the world? Discuss in the ‘MakerBot in the Classroom’ forum thread on 3DPB.com.