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MakerBot donates 3D printers as part of an ongoing commitment to improve STEM learning programmes

US desktop 3D printer manufacturer MakerBot announced last month its ongoing commitment to making 3D printing accessible to more students with the donations of their 3D printers such as MakerBot SKETCH, MakerBot METHOD X, and MakerBot Replicator +, alongside 3D printing materials to several organisations that support low-income communities across the United States.

MakerBot provide 3D printing ecosystems for education, offering a full suite of connected hardware and software solutions. Educators who are part of the programmes will be able to use the 3D printing lesson plans and access the community on MakerBot’s Thingiverse platform, and the only ISTE-certified 3D printing training programmes, MakerBot Certification.

The Si Se Puede Foundation, located in Arizona, provide programmes and opportunities to underserved communities to become more proficient in STEM. Si Se Puede is building a STEM centre that offers 3D printing for students who do not have access to such a programme at their schools.

Faridodin (Fredi) Laivardi, President/CEO and STEM Director at Si Se Puede Foundation, said: “Learning how to use 3D printing is becoming increasingly essential as the technology becomes more widespread in the workplace.”

Speaking about the success the donated printers have had already, Fredi added: “Our METHOD X 3D printers have been running constantly for a range of applications, from our robotics team creating prototypes and end-use parts for their FIRST Robotics Competition robot, to working with other non-profits to modify toys so that children with limited physical mobility and dexterity could play with those toys.”

Si Se Puede also aims to offer MakerBot Certification training programmes for teachers and students to certify them on the SKETCH 3D printers. Fredi added: “We want to teach students how to use 3D printing and empower them with the skills they need to be prepared as they enter the workforce of the future.

Hawaii-based Kihei Elementary School are also benefitting from MakerBot’s donations. The school aims to foster a safe atmosphere where students are encouraged to create and explore in order to reach their potential.

Third Grade Teacher at Kihei Elementary School, Kristen Goodwin, said: “The use of SKETCH and 3D printing can usher in technology integration into virtually any lesson inside our classroom. We can design and print shapes in geometry, and then turn around and reimagine then print ancient artefacts in history.”

Kristen also added: “Being able to offer this type of technology to my students inside my classroom is also a great way to encourage students to pursue their passions/careers in STEAM.

In Florida, Manatee Children’s Services, Inc, a not-for-profit agency that offers therapy and types of prevention and intervention services for youth that have been placed in the foster care system, plan to introduce 3D printing as a hobby to help alleviate the stress the children go through in the process.

“In our shelters, the kids have a lot of downtime. With 3D printing, children can make 3D objects come to life. The time they spend concentrating and deep in thought working on their creations allow them to escape the trauma they have experienced,” said Derek Beaulieu, M.S. BRIC Therapist, MCS Child Advocacy Centre, Manatee Children’s services.

Another organisation benefitting from MakerBot’s commitment is HATCH Workshop, a non-profit in California that will use the MakerBot 3D printers to provide local libraries and makerspaces with training on 3D printing and how to best engage the youth in the area.

The Executive Director, Production Manager and Digital Creative Specialist at HATCH Workshop, Elazar Abraham, said: “Our goal is to cultivate an environment of deeper engagement with existing resources and knowledge in our community. By engaging with the deeper nature of the technology to understand functional limitations and strengths a broader discourse within the context of society can emerge.”

The Steam Foundation, a California-based non-profit, provide students from kindergarten all the way through to 12th grade with free virtual workshops that teach 3D printing, robotics, graphic design and coding, alongside bringing 3D printing programmes to under-resourced schools, making STEAM education equally available to all students. Teaming up with MakerBot, the Steam Foundation can expand access to 3D printing.

Aadhav Prabu, Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Steam Foundation, said: “3D printing not only teaches students how to be critical thinkers and problem solve with design thinking, but it also encourages creativity and collaboration, important skills needed in life.”

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