Feb 13, 2018 | By Tess

My tickets are reserved and purchased. Tonight I am finally going to see Marvel’s Black Panther. (What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day, am I right?)

Making me even more excited for the epic film is the amazing impact it is having, not only in the entertainment industry, but even in tech. As we already know, the film itself features some stunning 3D printed costume props, which is exciting as is, but when we learnt about an educational effort initiated by non-profit Mbadika combining Black Panther with 3D printing for educational purposes, the significance of the film on young lives became even more apparent.

Based in Massachusetts, Mbadika is a non-profit organization founded by Netia McCray which is aimed at establishing connections between domestic and international innovators for the purpose of creating new ideas and solutions for some of the world’s biggest challenges.

Mbadika's Netia McCray and Erica Nwankwo

One area of focus in the organization is to help kids to “turn ideas in their heads into reality,” as McCray put it. This, as you may have recognized, is another way of saying that they’re teaching children product design and development. When she saw that Black Panther was being released by Marvel Studios, McCray and her team were inspired to use the momentum and excitement of the film to get kids, and especially black kids, engaged in some STEM projects.

In a new YouTube series, McCray and her colleague Erica Nwankwo demonstrate how kids can use accessible 3D modeling tools such as Tinkercad to design 3D printable props from Black Panther. Appropriately, the first episode is based on Queen Ramonda’s crown, which itself was 3D printed for the film.

“What I want to show is that all the things you see in the film that captivate you, that may not be traditional engineering, or what we think of when we think of engineering or STEM, actually contains core concepts from that,” McCray explained to EdSurge in an interview. “And I hope it makes kids realize, and adults, that STEM isn't some scary word that you have to have a certain level of knowledge, resources, or skill to adopt it into whatever you're passionate about.”

The YouTube series, which so far consists of one episode, is aimed at elementary and middle school children, but McCray thinks that anyone who is new to 3D design and technologies such as 3D printing could enjoy the brief tutorials.

Of course, it is no coincidence that Black Panther was the film to inspire this initiative, and McCray is hoping to engage black women and girls in STEM by emphasizing and highlighting that the film itself features black female characters who run technologically advanced societies.

“[What] the Black Panther film means to me is seeing women and girls who look like me building the most technologically advanced weapons the world has ever seen and being portrayed positively while doing it,” McCray added.



Posted in Fun with 3D Printing



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