MakerBot is reaching out to educators with a new design handbook that will make bringing 3D printers into the classroom easier.
3D printing, which has been around for almost 30 years, has recently made some tremendous strides in education. But there are still obstacles to bringing the technology into more schools, says MakerBot CEO Jonathan Jaglom, and teaching educators how to use it is chief among them.
This week the company released MakerBot in the Classroom: An Introduction to 3D Printing and Design, a 144-page digital guide that includes projects, activities and lesson plans to make adoption of the technology easier.
MakerBot has developed inroads at more than 5,000 schools nationwide, most in the past two two years, says Jaglom. That adoption curve is due, in large part, to educators seeing the potential for the technology to encourage problem solving, collaboration and critical thinking in the classroom.
"Of all our segments, education is easily among the largest," Jaglom says. "The reason why I think 3D printing is being embraced is because it empowers the individual to be more creative and innovative in the classroom."
A recent survey of teachers commissioned by the company seems to bear that out. The survey found 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," according to the company’s news release.
MakerBot offers thousands of free, downloadable 3D models through Thingiverse, the company's online, community warehouse of printable designs, but Jaglom says students seem more interested in designing their own creations.
"This technology is empowering kids to be creative," says Jaglom. "You'd want to think that's the case, and it turns out it is."
MakerBot in the Classroom is the first outreach offering from the company’s education initiative, headed by Allison Vicenzi.