Apr 5, 2016 | By Alec

Our generation of makers can, almost universally, trace back our roots to playing with Legos and similar building toys. But as is the case with everything, today’s kids learn things digitally. Recognizing that shift, Microsoft Japan has teamed up with Japanese startup Kabuku to set up an educational basic coding and 3D printing program that is completely centered in the environment of the popular sandbox building game Minecraft. Could this be the way to reach kids anno 2016?

Kabuku, as you might know, is the innovative startup behind Rinkak. It is an online marketplace that lets makers upload their 3D printable designs and sells them directly to consumers everywhere and is one of the most significant 3D printing hubs in Japan and East Asia. Incidentally, the company is also fantastic at raising funds from outside investors, finding more than $9 million USD in investment over 2015, with an eye on increasing Rinkak’s global presence.

But despite all that money, that have evidently not forgotten about Japan’s youth. This project, which is a model case of the ICT Dream School Council of the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, is essentially seeking to provide a fun educational platform to produce the country’s next generation of makers. And what better way to do so than with the amazingly popular Minecraft game?

Called “Digital House Making”, the pilot for this program provides an educational course to grade six students of the Sarugaku Elementary School in Tokyo, consisting of 10 sessions of 45 minutes each. The goal is to hold the students’ attention through a Minecraft environment, while teaching them about basic coding and 3D printing in a problem solving, playful construction setting.

As part of the agreement, Kabuku has integrated their “Rinkak 3D Avatar Printing Solution” into Minecraft. This is a 3D printing service for customized gaming avatars, that can also be 3D printed and sold through Rinkak. For this educational program, the students can 3D print the full color digital houses they make for the game. Kabuku also provides a class on 3D printing technology, 3D imaging and digital making.

Hopefully, this pilot will show how putting 3D printed structures into the hands of students can help them increase their understanding of how 3D data and the physical world can interact with each other. It can also help them to improve their designs and strengthen their analytic abilities while essentially playing Minecraft. The models visible above are the first results of this intriguing pilot program. Meanwhile Kabuku is already looking at reinforcing the partnership by bringing in more 3D content providers and improve delivery services. They, in turn, can of course expand their avatar 3D printing platform. Though it remains to be seen if this program can be expanded nationwide, it is certainly the most effective way we’ve seen to educate today’s digitally-spoiled kids.



Posted in 3D Printing Service



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