Mar 2, 2016 | By Andre

I can’t help but reminisce about my 3D printing days gone by when doing research for writing 3ders articles. Today I am transported back to 2012 when I participated in my first Ladies Learning Code 3D printer workshop. Since day one, this not-for-profit's focus has evolved around inspiing and motivating women to participate in technology based curriculum.

Since that day, I’ve participated in 3D printer workshops for related local organizations such as Girls Learning Code and MakerKids before cheering on enthusiastically when the #code mobile ventured across Canada with the help of its crowd funding campaign to further spread STEM related educational practices across my country. It now seems the push to invigorate women and girls to take on STEM philosophies is spreading out further still as MakerGirl, a US based maker group, has begun their own Kickstarter campaign that closely resembles the efforts of those before them.

This MakerGirl campaign is committed to bringing STEM based learning (along with 3D printing workshops) to rural areas across he United States while focusing on girls between the ages of 7 and 10. Stephanie Hein, director of engagement at MakerGirl suggests that they “want to visit rural areas because girls in these communities don't have access to as many maker spaces as girls who live in more urban areas.”

As of now, the Kickstarter will assist in their goal of travelling around during an 8 - 10 week stretch with 3D Printers, laptops and teaching materials in tow. They’ve have also partnered up with maker spaces, fab labs, Girl Scouts, schools and summer camps to gain even further traction in their efforts.

Having a 3D printer as a central character for their planned tour makes perfect sense. While some consider 3D printing as a means to produce more widgets and knickknacks to clutter our world, I stand by the thought that 3D printing sessions like what MakerGirl is after does so much more.

The MakerGirl campaign hopes that their “3D printing sessions [will] allow girls to create and envision ideas, while also giving them the satisfaction of being able to hold their creation in their hands at the end. With 3D printing technology, ideas can be developed and tested faster, and at a lower cost. The possibilities of what can create are endless.”

In terms of breakdown, the sessions include three essential elements. First there’s the brainstorming process that introduces the girls to 3D printing and problems (such as the manufacture of prosthetic limbs) that might be solved with the technology. Then there’s the design phase that has the girls design their brainstormed creations into simple 3D models before being converted into a 3D printable file during their introduction to an easy-to-use slicing software. Finally comes the printing itself. This is the part of the session where the girls can see their creations come to life, showcase their 3D prints to their peers and eventually show off their newfound skills to their typically excited parents.

As of now, the Kickstarter fundraiser has a lot of time left to reach their $30,000 goal and hopes to use the raised funds to pay for expenses and furnishings exhausted by their STEM based workshops. If the campaign breaks through their goal, any extra funds will be put right back into the organization to pay for more equipment, filament varieties, laptops, tables and chairs.

Because this campaign has more to do with raising money to help a good organization grow than anything else, the pledge rewards are mostly comprised of ‘thanks’ related prizes. A variety of website/newsletter mentions, stickers, keychains, and t-shirts are all relatively inexpensive swag that will ensure most of the proceeds go to where the funds are needed most.

MakerGirl been around since 2014 and has hosted over 55 sessions with more than 470 participants and operate out of locations in Champaign-Urbanana and southern Illinois. And as of October 14, 2015, they’ve officially been designated a non-profit organization to ensure their focus philosophy remains intact and strengthens in the years to come.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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Manisha Singh (MakerGirl) wrote at 3/3/2016 6:54:48 AM:

Thanks for sharing this! - MakerGirl Team



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