Thousands of educators throughout Europe are embracing 3D printing as a new way to teach 21st century skills and prepare students for the jobs of the future. Taking the first steps to introduce students to 3D printing, however, can be challenging. MakerBot, a global leader in the desktop 3D printing industry, conducted in-depth research this spring to better understand how to help educators incorporate 3D printing in classrooms. The research shows that acquiring 3D design skills is a major hurdle for educators and there is no single resource to address this need.
To fill that gap, MakerBot published a handbook designed to provide educators with a wide variety of ideas, activities, and projects to get started with 3D printing. Titled MakerBot in the Classroom: An Introduction to 3D Printing and Design, the handbook includes an introduction to 3D printing and a range of hands-on 3D design lesson plans. MakerBot in the Classroom will be available from July 1st as a free digital download for registered MakerBot customers and a sample project chapter will be available free to anyone who registers on eu.makerbot.com. Additionally, MakerBot launched a new MakerBot Education landing page with further ideas and resources to support the integration of 3D printing in the classroom, such as real-world MakerBot stories, videos, challenges for teachers and students, and more.
“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,” said 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 recent survey of teachers commissioned by MakerBot in the United States showed that 83 percent of teachers using MakerBot 3D Printers empowered their students to design their own objects as opposed to having them print existing designs. This requires educators to teach 3D design and introduce students to the software that enables them to take an idea and turn it into a 3D printable design. Lesson plans and project ideas were among the most frequent requested resources to help educators get started, and MakerBot in the Classroom fills those needs.
MakerBot in the Classroom is divided into three sections: The first section covers how MakerBot Replicator 3D Printers work and the technology behind them, the second section shows how to download, scan, and design models to print on a 3D printer, and the third and most comprehensive chapter features multiple projects for teachers and students to 3D design and 3D print. Each section provides background knowledge, learning objectives, terminology, sample activities, and discussion materials. The project ideas in the handbook are provided as a starting point to help educators integrate 3D printing into their own lesson plans and classrooms. They invite educators and students to investigate a subject matter, explore a variety of 3D modeling tools, and create and print original designs. Each project introduces a different type of free 3D design software, including Tinkercad, OpenSCAD, Sculptris and 123D Design. Each project also has a section that offers guidance on tying the project further into curriculum.
For example, Make Your Own Country is a project that casts students as explorers of a new world. Students design and 3D print tiles representing water, forest, mountains, and other landscapes, which can be assembled into a new and uncharted territory. Students then form groups that develop settlements by surveying the land and discovering its natural resources. During this project, students learn 21st century skills, such as 3D design, critical thinking, problem solving and collaboration.
MakerBot in the Classroom is the first offering as part of MakerBot’s long-term commitment to working with educators to provide better support for 3D printing in classrooms and on campus. Additional tools and resources for educators are now available on the new MakerBot Education landing page, such as real-world MakerBot stories, videos, and challenges for teachers and students. For example, MakerBot recently launched five Thingiversity Summer STEAM Challenges on MakerBot Thingiverse, the world’s largest 3D design community, to encourage students, teachers, and librarians to try 3D modeling at home over the summer. The leading MakerBot 3D Ecosystem also includes hardware, materials, learning, software, and apps like MakerBot PrintShop for iPad, which allows students to turn 2D drawings and sketches into physical objects.
Additionally, MakerBot offers custom product solutions for educational institutions such as the MakerBot Starter Lab, a scalable, reliable 3D printing solution that is easy to implement; and the MakerBot Innovation Center, a large-scale 3D printing hub.
MakerBot Replicator 3D Printers are already installed in many schools around the world, for example more than 5,000 schools throughout the U.S. alone. At Libera Università Carlo Cattaneo (LIUC) in Castellanza, Italy, a MakerBot Innovation Center was opened earlier this month and is supposed to be having a profound impact on students, faculty, and the community with its many possibilities. The university will be offering partnerships with as well as courses for regional industry to create a vibrant cross-departmental learning commons and innovation hub that serves both students and the local business community in unprecedented ways.