3D Printing

New Construction Kits Incorporate 3D Printing

A major 3D printer maker and an educational game designer are teaming up to deliver a construction kit designed to help young children develop an interest in engineering.

ThinkFun has created the Maker Studio Construction Set that will let children 7 and older, their parents and teachers work together to turn ordinary household items into engineering-inspired machines. The sets will be distributed at no cost via MakerBot's Thingiverse, a 3D design community for discovering, making and sharing 3D printable objects.

The construction sets will contain gears, winches, propellers and 3D-printable parts like connectors, wheels, rods, hubcaps, spools and hole punches. The combination of the two types of objects will allow children to turn things like cereal boxes or soda cans into kinetic machines.
The Maker Studio Construction Set is the result of a partnership between MakerBot and ThinkFun.

Assembly diagrams and instructions can be downloaded from Thingiverse, as can 10 open-ended challenges that are intended to enhance problem-solving skills.

Children, in conjunction with their parents and teachers or on their own, can work through the challenges, follow the instructions or use their imaginations to create their own objects.

"These new construction sets use 3D printing to stimulate a child's imagination and build important cognitive skills," said MakerBot CEO Jonathan Jaglom. "The open-ended, creative play fosters child development through self-expression and problem solving."

ThinkFun and MakerBot have also launched the "Kids Make It Challenge" to share their creations and compete for prizes and the title of Master Maker. To enter, children or their parents simply post a photo or video of their Maker Studio creation on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #KidsMakeIt by July 14. Formal contest rules are on the #Kids Make It Challenge Page and winners will be announced July 28 on the MakerBot blog.

"Kids are inherently creative, and it's amazing to see how imaginative they can be when given the opportunity to exercise their minds and ingenuity with smart toys like Maker Studio," said ThinkFun Co-founder Bill Ritchie.

About the Author

Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.