MakerBot is among those generous donors who are trying to make funds available so schools in Connecticut can more easily acquire the company’s Replicator 2 Desktop 3D printers for classroom use.
The initiative comes as funds have been raised for 537 teachers in 515 schools across the United States. Through a crowd-funding drive, over $1.27 million was raised by MakerBot, company partners and private donors. The project is listed as MakerBot Academy on the DonorsChoose.org website.
Longer term, the company wants to see the printers in every school in the United States. In fact, MakerBot Academy wants to put a 3D printer in every U.S. public school classroom in the next three years, according to news reports. “Putting a MakerBot in K through 12 schools in the United States is a huge undertaking,” Jenny Lawton, MakerBot president, confirmed in a statement. “But I believe it is a necessary one to bring our students of today the technology they need to prepare them for engineering, architecture, design, art and technology jobs of tomorrow. By providing students with a MakerBot Replicator 2 desktop 3D printer, we are offering them an opportunity to have a manufacturing experience and education in a box. All of us at MakerBot are very excited to be part of something that has the potential to impact children all over America.”
Lawton said she will personally sponsor some of the MakerBot Academy bundles on DonorsChoose.org for public schools in Connecticut – which is her home state. Also, MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis said he will fund MakerBot Academy packages in public high schools in Brooklyn, NY, and the parent company of MakerBot, Stratasys, said its co-founder, Ralph Crump, will do likewise for schools throughout the United States.
The MakerBot Academy bundle package offered on DonorsChoose.org provides a 25 percent discount, and features a MakerBot Replicator 2 desktop 3D printer, three rolls of MakerBot PLA filament, and MakerBot MakerCare service and protection plan. The base price is $2,000.
MakerBot is asking other businesses, community leaders and individual donors to take part in the philanthropic effort, as well. “We believe we can put a 3D printer in every school and give our kids a competitive advantage they deserve,” Pettis said in the statement.
3D printing is an important skill to teach students – given its potential to revolutionize technology. “We feel we need to encourage our teachers and our youth to think differently about manufacturing and innovation, and 3D printing is a way to accomplish this,” Pettis said. “Instead of waiting for someone to create a product for you, you can create your own. It can change the whole paradigm of how our children will see innovation and manufacturing in America. Having a MakerBot in the classroom can also encourage kids to follow their passions and we believe will help develop more engineers, architects, industrial designers, artists, and entrepreneurs.”
Recently, a MakerBot store opened on Greenwich Avenue in Greenwich, CT. There are also stores in New York City and Boston. Lawton has owned Just Books, Just Books, Too and Arcadia Cafe – each located in Greenwich.
In Greenwich alone, Greenwich High School, Eastern Middle School, Julian Curtiss School, the International School at Dundee, Brunswick School, Whitby School, Greenwich Academy and Convent of the Sacred Heart have MakerBot printers. That is a mixture of public, religious and independent schools. The 3D printers are very useful.
“They can be used in shop class, for students to see the virtual things they can create, and in art and music education,” Lawton told The Greenwich Post newspaper. “It’s a natural fit for math and science; it allows kids to actually see and feel what’s going on, instead of just reading about it.”
Edited by Cassandra Tucker