A recent interview with Adafruit suggests that MakerBot is hoping to overcome issues in the past and regain consumer and investor trust. We’ll have to wait and see just if new CEO Jonathan Jaglom is able to turn the brand around, but, while they’re at it, the company will, of course, still be releasing products. In the past, their 3D printed paleontology sets had brought dino bones to 3D printers and MakerBot shops with impressive quality. And, now, the company has partnered with educational game manufacturer ThinkFun to produce a really exciting series of 3D printable models dubbed Maker Studio Construction Sets.
Citing a Department of Education study (PDF) that states that only 16% of high school seniors in the US are interested in STEM careers, MakerBot claims a desire to encourage a love of STEM education with these new 3D printables. Uploaded under ThinkFun’s own Thingiverse page, Maker Studio Construction Sets are available for free download, enabling kids, parents, and educators to 3D print and build neat machines using supplies found in most homes. The sets, designed by engineers for kids 7+, consist of 3D printable gears, winches, propellers, as well as connectors, wheels, rods, hubcaps, spools, and hole punches, all meant to turn household items like cereal boxes and soda cans into kinetic machines. Each set has a set of instructions, assembly diagrams, and there are 10 challenges to teach problem solving skills.
Jonathan Jaglom, CEO of MakerBot, said of the new kits, “We’re excited to partner with ThinkFun to introduce Maker Studio on Thingiverse. These new construction sets use 3D printing to stimulate a child’s imagination and build important cognitive skills. The open-ended, creative play fosters child development through self-expression and problem solving, helping kids understand engineering concepts in a playful and engaging way. Opening up Maker Studio Construction Sets to the world’s largest 3D printing community gives young makers more tools to create amazing, fun inventions.”
Bill Ritchie, co-founder of ThinkFun, adds, “Maker Studio sets itself apart from other toys by giving kids the tools to make their own unique creation. Kids are inherently creative, and it’s amazing to see how imaginative they can be when given the opportunity to exercise their minds and ingenuity with smart toys like Maker Studio. We are eager to see the creations that come out of the Kids Make It Challenge.”
To kick off the kits, MakerBot and ThinkFun have also launched the aforementioned “Kids Make It Challenge”, in which kids can compete for ThinkFun and MakerBot-branded prizes and the title of “Master Maker”. To enter, kids or parents are to post a photo or video of their their Maker Studio builds on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #KidsMakeIt from now until July 14, 2015, with the winner being announced on July 28th.
This latest series from MakerBot is definitely a super exciting way to get kids interested in engineering. It’s easy to imagine elementary school teachers with access to 3D printers 3D printing these sets in class and requiring their students to bring in discarded cereal boxes and soda cans with which to build ThinkFun cars and helicopters. And making them free ensures greater access to these awesome learning tools. Nice work, MakerBot and ThinkFun!