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MakerBot Launches Mission To Put 3-D Printers In Every U.S. Public School

The MakerBot Academy could put as many as 5,000 printers in public schools by the end of this school year.

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, 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 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."

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  • @ahvispin

    Fantastic! This is where manufacturing is headed -fast. 3-D is going to be a fundamental part of the next generation's technology.

  • OlHarley

    Respectfully, Tim, Constipated, and Dudeman: You are all complete goobers blowing smoke. As a classroom teacher and student of maker stuff, I can unbundle this for you. This isn't a game changer; it is a nice, fun little extracurricular or co-curricular program that will indeed excite and inspire a few kids to become engineers, if a nice, inspiring teacher is provisioned correctly and cares enough to make it happen. This is far from a worthless outcome. It totally needs to be a one of the many activities in well provisioned public schools.

  • ConstipatedKangaroo

    "engaging students" The only thing they're going to be engaging in is printing thousands upon thousands of genitalia. Haha. Please tell me I'm the only one that sees this coming. Especially in high schools. Haha.

  • Dudeman

    Why in the world would public schools need 3D printers? I'm a fan of 3D printing, but schools need more focus on fundamentals. I agree with Duane, this is more of a push for the manufacturer to get kids, then adults to use the product. School isn't the right place for these until a whole industry exists in the real world and would then justify it, much like auto shop or welding shop.

  • nick3865

    There is a whole industry for 3D printing, this is not new tech (over 20 years old). What's new is the accessible price and the ability to provide schools with new tech to inspire tomorrow's innovators. I'm sure your same arguments were voiced in the 80's when a little company called Apple started introducing a cheaper new computer to schools. What have those now 40-something students done with computers since then?

  • Dudeman

    I don't think the Apple comparison is valid here. The computer, even in the 80s was a skill you could apply in any office or business environment. Not so with the 3d printer. You are unlikely to find this device in any business except manufacturing. Even though it's been around for some time, it's only the past couple of years that it has become affordable, but not widespread. I just don't see it as a fit into a general school curriculum.

  • PBZ

    Only manufacturing? What about architecture? Theater (I know people who print out mini-sets and figure out how to arrange things on a smaller scale)? Art (that one is obvious)?

  • pk1000

    there are a million easier ways to make weapons than a 3D printer. I'm guessing you've never used one before. I completely agree with the kangaroo and duane

  • Scott Dansereau

    Working in an architecture firm exposes me to a lot of these advanced fabrication tools as part of my job. I recently met with a group of students who are taking part in a program with similar goals to Makerbot Academy. It is a product design program that spans several years in a Chicago area grade school. Read the post I wrote for our firm's blog here:

  • Duane Rochester

    If the majority of US Public Schools are failing the students that they're responsible for educating, what would be the point of installing 3D printers? Sounds like nothing more than a chance at free publicity.