May 30, 2016 | By Tess

3D printing technologies have been used in a number of innovative ways to get kids excited about STEM education, from integrating 3D printers into classrooms, to developing child friendly 3D design software, educators are eager to acquaint the younger generations with additive manufacturing technologies and potentials. A team of students from the University of Illinois have found another, dare I say delicious, way of teaching kids about 3D printing and basic programming concepts through their Computer Science senior project, SugarCUB3D.

The project, which is aimed at teaching kids about computer programming, was developed by SC seniors David Naber, William Xie, Anurag Choudhary, Han Chen, and Sukeerthi Khadri and supervised by senior lecturer Lawrence Angrave. Based on the idea that children like sweets such as cookies, SugarCUB3D is a food 3D printer which is capable of 3D printing initials onto a cookie to reward kids for correctly answering basic programming questions.

The development of the project involved a number of steps, including the creation of a kid-friendly website with a database of simple programming questions, generating 3D models for all 702 initial possibilities, and creating the actual food 3D printer. To accomplish the latter, William Xie led the team in hacking an Ultimaker 2 Extended 3D printer, which consisted of drilling a second hole through the Ultimaker’s print head to connect it to a Discov3ry Paste Extruder. With the modified 3D printer, the team was able to precisely print initials onto cookies using tasty materials like Nutella, icing sugar, and cake frosting.

Lawrence Angrave explains, “Food printing is an interesting vehicle to communicate about computer science because there is physical movement and there is something edible too. Both these qualities make food printing a memorable experience and therefore a great way to playfully introduce computer science.”

The equally tasty and educational project was presented by its student developers at the Engineering Open House (EOH) at the Siebel Center this past March, and was a hit amongst visitors. During the exhibition, kids were able to answer the SugarCUB3D quiz and receive custom initialed cookies, making for an overall enjoyable experience. The team of students also made their project open-source so anyone can explore and even implement their innovative idea.

As mentioned, the project was a Computer Science senior project, and Angrave, who supervised it, is hoping to continue to develop the project in the fall with a new team of students.

To see the SugarCUB3D in action, check out the video below:



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