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Hold onto those cereal boxes and soda cans! MakerBot and ThinkFun have plans for you to use them! Makerbot’s Thingiverse is the largest international community for sharing 3D printable designs, and it has made available for a free download “Maker Studio Construction Sets.” We wrote about these sets in detail a couple of weeks ago, in fact.

These Construction Sets are the product of a collaboration between MakerBot and ThinkFun, and are intended to inspire the engineers inside us all using everyday household objects and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education principles. Furthermore, these new Construction Sets are designed to introduce 3D printing to young learners, creating sort of an “on ramp to the Maker movement”. But that’s not all! There’s a “Kids Make It Challenge” that you still have time to enter, if you want to display any creations you may happen upon while tinkering with your new construction sets!

ThinkFun is an excellent partner for MakerBot, as the company has been one of the “world’s leaders in addictively fun games” for over 30 years. Puzzles, brainteasers, games: this is the company’s specialty, and they have used these media as make4a way to ensure that coding, math, engineering and general creativity are encouraged in children. The “Maker Studio Construction Sets” are an excellent example of this commitment.

Categorized into Gears, Propellers, and Winches, the sets are for children ages seven years and older with a budding interest in engineering. The sets are designed by engineers, in fact. All sets contain 3D printable parts such as connectors, rods, wheels, hubcaps, hole punches, and spools. These parts can be individually downloaded and then used to make kinetic machines out of household items (like cereal boxes or soda cans.) Thingiverse is also providing instructions, assembly diagrams, and 10 problem-solving challenges. This arrangement allows children to either follow instructions or create their own challenges.

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Jonathan Jaglom, MakerBot’s CEO, summarizes his excitement about the project:

“We’re excited to partner with ThinkFun to introduce Maker Studio on Thingiverse. These new construction sets use 3D printing to stimulate a child’s imagination and build important cognitive skills. The open-ended, creative play fosters child development through self-expression and problem solving, helping kids understand engineering concepts in a playful and engaging way. Opening up Maker Studio Construction Sets to the world’s largest 3D printing community gives young makers more tools to create amazing, fun inventions.”

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Kids love making things and sharing them too, and they also love contests. MakerBot and ThinkFun know this well, and they have launched a “Kids Make it Challenge” ending July 14, 2o15. To enter, simply post a photo of your creation on Twitter or Instagram, with the hashtag #KidsMakeIt. Winners will be announced on July 28, 2015 on the MakerBot blog, and you can read more about the challenge here.

ThinkFun’s co-founder, Bill Ritchie, explains how Maker Studio and the “Kids Make It Challenge” encourages kids’ make5innate creativity:

“Maker Studio sets itself apart from other toys by giving kids the tools to make their own unique creation. Kids are inherently creative, and it’s amazing to see how imaginative they can be when given the opportunity to exercise their minds and ingenuity with smart toys like Maker Studio. We are eager to see the creations that come out of the Kids Make It Challenge.”

You can follow ThinkFun on Facebook and Twitter, and watch the video clip below, to start getting inspiration for entries into the “Kids Make It Challenge.”  Let us know your thoughts on this unique new application for 3D Printing.  Discuss in the MakerBot ThinkFun forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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