The economic effects of innovations like 3-D printing and robotics aren’t always readily apparent. For instance, 3-D printing is recognized as a way for businesses to cheaply create prototypes, but it’s not widely viewed as a way to reduce expenses in school classrooms.
3-D printing company MakerBot, however, sees an opportunity.
MakerBot is holding a design challenge on its Thingiverse website to encourage users to create math manipulatives that can be used in the classroom. Manipulatives could include pattern blocks, geoboards, tangrams, abacus, animal counters, measuring worms and other educational items. Currently, the company says teachers obtain these tools on their own or order them from math websites, often with their own funds.
“Having been a teacher before starting MakerBot, I know how needed math manipulatives are in the classroom to teach different math concepts,” Bre Pettis, CEO of MakerBot, said in a statement. “Math manipulatives are one of the most sought-after tools for the classroom, but often expensive and parts get lost and need to be replaced. By 3-D printing math manipulatives, teachers take the creativity and control of these tools and bring them into the classroom to encourage even more innovation and inspiration.”
Entries will be accepted through Nov. 18 and winners will be announced on Dec. 9. The first-place winner will receive a MakerBot Replicator 2 desktop 3-D printer and three rolls of filament; in addition, they’ll have their creation displayed at MakerBot stores and online. Details are available on the Thingiverse website.
The challenge launched this week in conjunction with the company’s MakerBot Academy education initiative, which is designed to connect public school teachers with donors to purchase a MakerBot Academy 3D printing bundle. That initiative runs through the end of the year.
[ photo courtesy of MakerBot ]