It’s easy to think that great technology advances are inevitable, that they will flourish and provide the best possible world for the people making them. But in reality paradigm shifts like 3D printing are aided by a host of people working to make a future they think will be an improvement. This week Shapeways got to participate in discussions with hard working people who see the potential for 3D printing to improve our lives in miraculous ways. In a series of 5 panels, 3D/DC took place on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. By providing a platform for discussion in front of Congressional policy makers, myself and the other participating in the panels got to have a voice in the discussion about where 3D printing will go next.
Led by Public Knowledge, a group that promotes freedom of expression, an open Internet, and access to affordable communications tools and creative works, hosted the fifth 3D/DC at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington D.C. on April 13-14, 2016. My panel was all about discussing the best ways that students and teachers can promote STEAM education. My fellow panelists were high school educator Joseph Williams, 3D education software developer Sophia Georgieu of Morphi App, and student makers Becky and John Button.
In short, 3D printing will only be effective in education if students like Becky and John have unfettered access and qualified help from educators to pursue their inventions. Children are already taking to technology learning tools like Minecraft and littleBits to augment their understanding of concepts. During this panel all of us stressed that the community around makerspaces, that having access to other interested people, is equally important as getting your hands on some 3D modeling software. As you can see, kids like John will make the most of anything you put in from of them, but they need our help to use it in the right learning environment.