Here's a look at some of the most exciting developments, including 3D printing prosthetics, 3D printing with plants and a growing understanding of why all kids need access to STEAM education.
The Maker Movement isn't just happening in big city schools and wealthy urban areas. Today, rural school districts are also incorporating maker projects into curricula - and they are offering students hands-on projects that can help them better understand the tangible needs of the communities they live in. This article looks at how some rural schools are utilizing STEM projects to help kids help their own communities.
This article outlines how 3D printing has become a humanitarian effort worldwide and how organizations are using 3D printers to do things like print bespoke anatomical models to help create better prosthetics globally. The article also contains information about upcoming projects and conferences about 3D printing prosthetics, and how people can get involved with those projects if they are interested.
Shenzhen-based start-up Makeblock just raised $30 million to create robot-building kits for kids. Makeblock sells kits to parents and educators in more than 140 countries, and their technology is used in more than 20,000 schools worldwide. They are planning to use the money to manufacture more of their existing kits, create more products for children to learn from and expand their operation to more countries across the world. The company has said that they are aiming to create the "next-generation logo" and are hoping to match the popularity of the legendary building block company.
One criticism of 3D printing is its use of plastics. However, a group at MIT has finally succeeded at replacing the plastic used with cellulose, a structure that makes up plants. The benefits of using cellulose are many: the material is more sustainable and it is also biodegradable, and thus, much better for the environment. The group tackled a couple problems facing scientists who had hoped to 3D print with cellulose: that cellulose decomposed at high heats and that it was too sticky for 3D extrusion. The research that led to the discovery was funded by a National Science foundation grant.
Cartoon Network has always been an entertaining network for kids, but now it's becoming an educational one as well. The network has decided to incorporate STEAM education into its shows, making many of them participatory with matching apps and games that can be used while watching. They've also decided to bring in STEAM experts (particularly women in STEAM fields), who can help write stories for the shows. A resulting example? An episode of "Powerpuff Girls" where Bubbles learns to code. Cartoon Networks says they aim to master the "A" in STEAM by telling the right kind of stories to kids.
If you are an educator and you want to get your kids started with STEAM projects, check out Tinkercad. Our easy-to-use design program will allow your students to design, print and cut their own objects - and more!