Oct 11, 2015 | By Tess

If you, like us at 3Ders, believe that 3D printing is the future, it would make sense to begin teaching the technology to perhaps the most important element of our future: our children. The people behind UK based organization I Can Make certainly think so, as they’ve set out to educate and introduce 3D printing technology to children through programs directed to schools, teachers, and parents, most recently through their 3D printed product Strawblox.

I Can Make was founded in 2014 and those working for the company have worked tirelessly to promote the potentials of 3D printing to young students. Notably, this past June, I Can Make released a series of Youtube videos meant to guide parents, teachers, and children through the basics of 3D printing, teaching them such things as “What is 3D Printing?” and “What can I make with a 3D printer?”

The founders of I Can Make were driven to make the series of films after attending the BETT education show in London and hearing teachers’ concerns about 3D printing. As they explain, “It was clear to us that many teachers are still confused and a bit intimidated by 3D printing technology. While they could see its potential in the wider world of industry and manufacturing, the ‘missing piece’ for them was the beginning, how to get started and how to make it relevant and engaging for the children…” In considering these concerns, the I Can Make videos are straightforward, accessible, and above all educational.

More recently, I Can Make have launched their new product, aimed at further educating children about additive manufacturing through play: Strawblox. Strawblox are essentially a collection of 3D printed construction blocks, which can be used along with plastic straws to build an assortment of structures. I Can Make also suggest that the blocks can be used for geometry, to “test out principles of maths and engineering,” as well as to make art or design-tech projects.

The design behind the Strawblox is simple, but it is this simplicity that is so endearing, as children can use the 3D printed parts in order to create almost anything their imaginations can conjure. In fact, I Can Make is encouraging users of Strawblox to send in photos of their creations through their website or through hashtagging “Strawblox” on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, in order to feature some original creative ideas on their blog.

The Strawblox design files are available for free download from I Can Make’s website, and because they are under a Creative Commons license they can be modified by users in size or even in their design. All you need in order to have your own Strawblox collection is the aforementioned files, a 3D printer, and a pack of standard (5mm in diameter) plastic straws.

As stated on their website, “Our overarching classroom mission is to create the BEST 3D-printable classroom resources with associated lesson plans, with the aim of supporting exciting, playful, hands-on learning across the curriculum. Strawblox are a key modular component of this.”



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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