Almost everyone involved in the 3D printing industry, as well as in education, agrees that 3D printing is an extremely important skill that children should learn from an early age. Along with other emerging technologies such as robotics, 3D printing is already becoming an important part of the workplace, and it will only become so. So it helps that 3D printing is so fun – most kids are fascinated by it. What child will not be happy to be able to make their own toys – at school, however?
Engineer Nestor âYanâ Llanos has been working with 3D printing and design for over 20 years; in fact, he was chief design engineer on the world’s first 3D printed car, the Strati from Local engines. He also has children of his own, which inspired him to start exploring ways to get kids interested in 3D printing and other STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) subjects.
Llanos founded DreamFactory and with his fellow designers developed BuddyRacers, a collection of characters and cars that kids can download and 3D print. The project allows children to learn about modeling and 3D printing while having fun creating their own toy worlds. Now Llanos has written an educational book for children aged 4-10. The little creator teaches kids 3D printing and 3D design with simple step-by-step tutorials that are included alongside a story.
The story takes place in “Buddyland”, as the creatures of the BuddyRacers collection prepare for the annual Buddygames event. As children browse through the book, they are guided to create their own 3D printable cartoon characters, the complexity of which gradually increases until “little designers” have the skills to customize and print. in 3D a whole world including monsters, cars, spaceships, buildings and entire cities.
â3D printing technology is new; therefore, it’s not quite a ‘push button’ yet, âexplains Llanos. âChildren will need help with certain tasks. Before helping, allow them to try it out for themselves, which will help them become makers.
Llanos funded the publication of the book with a successful Kickstarter campaign Last year. Once it was published, he set up a series of test courses through Local Motors, to an enthusiastic response, and last month he presented the book and his projects associated with the Barnes & Noble Mini. Maker Faire. The experience inspired Llanos to work to reach more children by bringing the book into elementary schools with STEAM curricula.
Currently he works with STAX3D, a 3D technology solutions provider in Gilbert, Arizona, to help interested schools set up 3D design and printing programs. The local Gilbert school district is the first they are working with and, according to Llanos, several other school districts are also interested.
âI think this is just the start,â he says.
According to Llanos, The little creator accommodates K-6 STEAM programs, and the DreamFactory website has plenty of support, including video tutorials, additional 3D models for download, and an online community. A 3D model marketplace where kids can share, buy, and sell their models will be coming to the site soon, along with a 3D printing service for kids who don’t have access to 3D printers.
Llanos’ goal of giving kids access to 3D printing and design materials is a high-profile goal that likely won’t end with The little creator. He is concerned about the lack of 3D printing equipment in many schools; although more schools and libraries are embracing the technology, there are still many without the resources.
âThere aren’t enough 3D printers (private and public) for them, and in order toâ¦ hire them, they have to have access to them,â he says. âMy personal goal is to help educators bring 3D in schools to a new level in the learning process, since I work in a tech company and 3D printing is ‘now’, so we need to prepare the next generation. “
In addition to being ideal for the classroom, The little creator also lends itself well to home projects. Llanos explains how he bonded with his own children by working with them on design and 3D printing projects, and he ultimately decided to publish his book as a way for other parents to spend quality time with them. their children while learning with them. The little creator is available as an ebook for $ 9.99 and both as an ebook and color print book for $ 25.00. Both can be purchased from the DreamFactory website. Discuss in The little creator forum on 3DPB.com.