Aug 22, 2017 | By David

The benefits of introducing 3D printing into educational programs, allowing kids to get to grips with the technology and the possibilities that it offers at an early age, are being increasingly acknowledged. One company based in New Zealand, MindKits, has been focused on 3D printing education for a while now, and the value of its work was recently recognized as part of an Australian business contest organized by Mercedes Benz. The MindKits team came away with first prize in the second annual ‘Hack My Van’ competition, run by the German automobile manufacturer.

MindKits, run by Tim Carr and Fay Cobbett, has been putting on educational 3D printing workshops all over New Zealand since 2008, teaching young people the basics of the technology in schools that have access to a 3D printer. Cobbett had always recognized the limitations of his approach, however, as many schools in less socio-economically successful areas of the country lack the funds or resources to introduce 3D printing technology.

Fortunately, Carr found out that Mercedes-Benz was offering a brand new Vito van to the winner of the ‘Hack My Van’ competition, and saw a perfect opportunity for MindKits to expand its operations. By winning the contest, the company could use the van to set up a mobile educational 3D printing workshop, bringing 3D printers to more under-privileged children. According to Carr, “there are plenty of keen kids that are out there in lower socioeconomic areas without the resources and funds to participate, so this is a way we could take what we’ve been doing and totally democratise the technology and make it available for everyone.'’

To win the competition, the MindKits team simply had to explain how the new van would add to the growth of its business.  Other businesses competing included a business offering silent discos for school children, a health professional delivery service, and a business offering VR tours of tiny homes. Carr and his colleagues were eventually able to deliver the best pitch of the bunch and secure the new van for the company, but their preparations didn’t go entirely according to plan.

The team planned to use boxes and life-size tables to demonstrate how they would be using the van. But then, just 24 hours before they were due to pitch, it all started to go wrong. “We were heading over from New Zealand, and the one bag that got lost by the airline was the one that had everything for our pitch in it,” said Carr. “And then when they were looking for our bags they asked for my passport so I gave it to them, but then they kept my passport. So we had to hire a car yesterday and drive back to the airport to pick up my passport.”

Carr and Cobbett overcame these obstacles and won the contest, impressing a panel of judges that included LaunchVic chief executive Kate Cornick, Blackbird Ventures partner Nick Crocker, award winning chef Shane Delia, stylist Megan Morton, and Mercedes-Benz Vans Australia and New Zealand managing director Diane Tarr. The MindKits team is now preparing to refurbish the van, ready to test out their concept for real. They intend to start out back home in New Zealand before moving over to Australia, and perhaps even further afield. Hopefully as many as 120 children a day will be able to participate in their new mobile 3D printing classes.

“Congratulations to Tim and Fay from MindKits who are already providing such a valuable service to school children in New Zealand by delivering hands-on STEM learning experiences,” Mercedes-Benz Vans Australia and New Zealand managing director Diane Tarr said in a statement.“We cannot wait to see them achieve their dreams of taking their ​workshops​ ​on​ ​the​ ​road​ ​to​ ​more​ ​kids​ ​and​ ​more​ ​schools.”

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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