January 14, 2022 – The Steam Foundation and MakerBot have teamed up to bring 3D printing to more students across the United States. The Steam Foundation, founded by Aadhav Prabu and Akshar Raikanti, is a non-profit organization based in California whose mission is to make STEAM education accessible to all kindergarten students through 12thu grade. The organization, which is also run by a team of students, offers free workshops that teach students 3D printing, robotics, graphic design and coding, as well as programs to help introduce 3D printing in schools.
Prabu and Raikanti are currently juniors at Dougherty Valley High School in San Ramon, California, and have been teaching 3D printing for years. They were inspired to form the organization after seeing high school students get involved in their 3D printing club.
“When Akshar and I ran a 3D printing club, we saw how excited the students were about using Replicator +. For some of them, this was the first time they had seen a 3D printer. We launched The Steam Foundation to give more students a chance to learn about 3D printing, ”said Prabu. “We are fortunate to work with MakerBot, a company that has the same commitment to 3D printing in education as we do.” MakerBot donated 3D printing equipment and materials to support the foundation’s mission and programs.
FULL SPEED AHEAD
STEAM education has come a long way over the years with the tireless efforts of those who have helped expand students’ access to new technologies, resources and training.
“The goal of the 3D printing camp in the autumn semester of 2021 was to create a virtual platform for students from all over the country to not only learn about 3D printing, but also to interact, collaborate, create projects together and share them. experience with each other, “said Prabu.
The foundation proved this by launching virtual camps for 3D printing, in which 30 students enrolled last semester. Tábor is a 10-week deep dive into the basics of 3D printing and 3D design. Last semester, students from 13 states attended, including California, Texas, Arkansas, Illinois, New York, Washington, and Kansas. Over the course of 10 weeks, students learned about various 3D printing technologies, materials such as PLA, ABS and TPU, design and CAD software, and how to print using MakerBot Replicator +. Because the program ran virtually, students sent their final designs to an instructor, who sent them to print on Replicator + and then mailed them to students. This allowed students to see and feel their designs physically, which can help them better understand the iterative nature of product design.
During the first few weeks, students were able to design on Tinkercad and print personalized name tags. Over the next few weeks, students advanced to more advanced CAD software, such as Fusion 360, and developed the ability to create more complex designs, such as a simple machine with moving parts. The course culminated in a final project that allowed students to demonstrate the skills they had improved during the semester.
“Last semester, we offered a game incentive for the first time – and we were happily surprised at how well it went. The design challenge motivated students to perform better and became more involved in the classroom and with each other. “They really focused on trying to improve their design skills for the competition, and that made them try harder,” Prabu said. “We also noticed that they started getting more involved, talking about problems and asking each other questions before turning to the instructor.”
Students took part in an open design challenge to create a simple machine with moving parts such as a pulley, lever or wheel and an axle. Students were able to design any type of machine they wanted, with some guidance on specific technical and design specifications. Students also had to describe their entire process in detail, from design to slicing, and share why they chose their specific print settings. This allowed students to think carefully and understand the whole design process.
3D PRINTING FOR EVERYONE
The Steam Foundation has ambitious plans for the spring semester of 2022. They are expanding their virtual 3D printing camps from one to four in order to attract four times as many students from last semester. To achieve this, they recruited and trained students from previous camps to become new instructors.
“We are excited to be able to expand our program and work with some of our alumni as instructors. The goal is for us to give them a set of tools by the end of 10 weeks with all the basic things they would need to move forward with 3D printing, ”said Prabu. “We hope they can use this set of tools to create great and advanced projects that move forward. In this way, we can continue to inspire other students to get into STEAM education and gain more experience specifically with 3D printing. ”
In addition to STEAM campsites, The Steam Foundation has other plans to introduce 3D printing to multiple communities. The Foundation’s Outreach Program aims to help schools with insufficient resources to establish 3D printing clubs by lending them 3D printing equipment and resources. The founders believe that with the right support and resources, schools can better influence their students.