3D printing is finding its way gradually into school curricula, in part because, more than ever before, 3D printers are becoming affordable even for schools with limited budgets. It probably goes without saying that it makes good sense to teach kids how to use this constantly evolving technology. By the time school kids these days are entering the job market, many of them will be seasoned pros where 3D technology is concerned.
But what if they get an even earlier jump on 3D technology? What if that education begins at home? If Cubify and Dutch designer Matthijs Kok have anything to say about it, they will. Cubify, a 3D Systems’ owned company ,features a web zone for children–Cubify Kids. At Cubify Kids, children can download and print (or print via the Cubify site) games, toys, and other objects, all with the objective of learning about 3D printing firsthand.
A recent project by Kok, which is featured on the Cubify Kids site, lets children 3D print or purchase their own Tabletop Games Collection using either the Cube 3D printer or the CubePro 3D printer, both manufactured and sold by Cubify. The 22-year-old creator of the Tabletop Games Collection, Kok, is a product designer and 3D modeler who, among other things, specializes in toy design. So, not only does his latest project teach kids about 3D design and printing, it also inspires self-confidence as they successfully complete the work, but the games themselves foster the development of fine motor skills, teach children strategy, and how to cooperate rather than merely compete.
So, what’s included in Kok’s Tabletop Games Collection? The Jumping Frogs let kids practice dexterity and hand-eye coordination as they flip their frogs onto the awaiting lily pad.
The Treasure Tic Tac Toe game (my personal favorite), is the classic game made more attractive in the context of the treasure chest and coins, which are rewarded with each win–the player with the most pirate booty (coins) wins the series of games.
Finally, Castle Spinners are elaborate tops that children can spin in competition with one another.
Thanks to Cubify’s Cube Pro 3D printer, the more expensive and sophisticated of the two 3D printers, printing objects in the collection in multiple colors is possible as the Cube Pro prints in up to three colors at once. The Cube Pro features, says its maker, “the largest-in-class build platform with ultra high resolution, with prints 2.5 times larger than any other desktop prosumer and hobbyist printer.” With the Cube Pro, you can not only print in three colors simultaneously, but you have three different material options and over 24 different colors from which to choose. The Cube 3D printer, while less sophisticated and more affordable for home use at around $999, still provides users with some pretty impressive options.
While Cubify Kids is clearly intended to appeal specifically to children, there’s no reason why adults can’t jump in and take on these projects for themselves or, as a kind of family activity where everyone is learning together. What a marvelous way to prepare your children for the high-tech world that awaits them not only career-wise, but in school, even early on.
Do these games appeal to your child–or to the kid in you? Let us know your thoughts in the 3D Printed Games from Cubify Kids forum thread over at 3DPB.com.