Makerbot Launches Hands-on Learning Guide for Introducing 3D Printing in the Classroom

New MakerBot Handbook Helps Educators and Students Get Started with Lesson Plans and Hands-on 3D Design Projects

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — (BUSINESS WIRE) — June 16, 2015 — Thousands of educators throughout the U.S. are embracing 3D printing as a new way to teach 21st century skills and prepare students for the jobs of the future1. 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 classrooms2. The research shows that acquiring 3D design skills is a major hurdle for educators and there is no single resource to address this need.

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MakerBot today published a handbook designed to provide educators with a wide variety of ideas, acti ...

MakerBot today published a handbook designed to provide educators with a wide variety of ideas, activities and projects to get started with 3D printing. (Photo: Business Wire)

To fill that gap, MakerBot today 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 is available as a free digital download for registered MakerBot customers and a sample project chapter is available free to anyone who registers on MakerBot.com. Additionally, MakerBot launched a new MakerBot Education Resource Center 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 STEAM3 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 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 designs4. 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 Resource Center, 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.

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