Round 2: The second round of the #SciFund Challenge took place in early 2012, and STEMulate Learning sought support for two projects, the first of which involved acquiring a 3D printer to supplement K-12 classrooms with 3D printed objects teachers and students could design and create, starting with a personalized robotics course suitable to junior-high, high-school and early college courses.
The combined support from round #2’s Personalized Robotics project was $226 USD, which provided funding for electronic robotic components and plastic filament used for 3D printing the robot designs. Filament colors were selected by students who identified their favorite color from a provided list of primary colors and then selecting the top three: Purple, Green and Pink
The real success of this crowdfunding effort was the response from MakerBot Industries’ Education group, who offered one of their excellent Replicator 3D printers for our research and put us into contact with more than 25 schools in the New York area whose educators have 3D printers available for teachers’ use. This group is working to develop lesson plans integrating 3d printed materials into traditional courses, which meshed very well with STEMulate Learning’s SOLID Learning initiative. Since that time, I have been contacted by educators from Texas, New Mexico, Hawai’i and the UK about SOLID Learning and our progress.
Educators have been active in workshops identifying electronic component options for our robotics designs and are using 3D printed objects in the classroom to reduce costs for refilling proprietary mimeography cartridges by using generic supplies and a custom funnel design – a roughly 20-fold cost savings in the face of reduced operating budgets in the public schools. This minor task took nothing more than a few minutes’ worth of time to design and evolve the designs until a final printed funnel worked as desired, making a clear point with school administrators when the issue of local 3D printers was broached.
As we continue our research into the effectiveness of personalized robotics designs in building interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) studies, all designs are being shared freely so that teachers, parents and students can perform their own studies using local resources. Based on educator interest, we will be compiling a guide to self-printed RepRap construction so that more teachers will be able to take advantage of this amazing potential in their own classrooms.
Round 2’s Personalized Robotics project in the #SciFund Challenge continues to provide materials and ideas for a growing body of educators around the world. Our Round 3 projects will seek support to develop this effort even more, so make sure to check back for more!