There was a time when learning-by-doing meant shop class or playing Oregon Trail. Now it means designing on a 3-D printer.
Brooklyn-based MakerBot Industries has announced a new crowdsourcing initiative with DonorsChoose.org, Autodesk, and America Makes to put 3-D printers in each of America's public schools. MakerBot Academy could put as many as 5,000 printers in public schools by the end of this school year, says MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis.
The initiative is a response to President Obama's call for more home-grown manufacturing in his recent State of the Union address. Each 3-D printing bundle comes with a MakerBot Replicator 2 printer, three spools of PLA filament (in red, white, and blue, of course), and a year of MakerBot Makercare for about $2,250, plus a $98 threshold raised by someone with ties to the school.
Individuals and corporations can visit DonorsChoose.org to donate to the pot for the project, and teachers register on the site to receive a bundle. Teachers have until Nov. 18 to enter the Thingiverse Math Manipulatives Challenge, where they can upload designs for teachers to use in the classroom. First-place winners get to send a 3-D printer bundle to the classroom of their choice.
"Hands-on learning and applied learning is the way to engage students, and there's nothing more hands on and applied than 3-D printing," says Charles Best, founder of CEO of DonorsChoose. "The impulse to construct is deeper than a teaching strategy. It's a human need."