The democratization of 3D printing may still be in its infancy, but it's already changing the landscape of education by empowering students to make their dreams a reality.
The 3D-printing fan site 3Ders.org recently spotlighted eight-year-old Omkar Govil-Nair, a young maker who used his skills to create his very own 3D-printed smartwatch.
"I got interested in electronics and programming 3 years back when I attended my 2nd Maker Faire. I was inspired by Quin Etnyre then the 12 year old CEO of Qtechknow. Since then I wanted to make my own product," Govil-Nair told 3Ders.
The watch is powered by an Arduino-based board and has an integrated color OLED screen, all housed in a colorful 3D-printed case. The watch can be programmed to make games and calculate values, such as the value of Pi.
"You can program it to function as a watch with date and time functions from Arduino, you can make games and apps and with the sensor board model you can also measure temperature, humidity, pressure as well as make a compass," he told 3Ders.
Govil-Nair and his father plan to create two development kits based on the watch, one of which will include more sensors, opening the door to more programmable possibilities.
3D printers are becoming more affordable and widespread in K–12 environments. Makerspaces are being established at schools, community centers and libraries that give tinkerers, engineers and students the chance to bring their projects to life.
Makerspaces and 3D printing both made it into the New Media Consortium’s 2015 K–12 Horizon report, which covers technology trends on the rise in K–12 education. According to the report, the makerspace phenomenon is growing because they are environments “where students take ownership of their education by doing and creating.“