As a trainer and educator, one of the largest learning hurdles I faced was overcoming young students lack of motivation. Many fail to see and or understand the educational gateway to a better life and sometimes providing non-punitive motivation can prove to be most difficult for teachers. What I mean by non-punitive is a motivational factor which lies outside of receiving poor grades. Hence, 3D printers not only provide this type of motivation, they can serve to inspire not only one student, but classes of students.
Having a 3D printer in the classroom may initially peak interest, however, interest will soon fade with the day’s sun if design challenges are not presented. One great challenge source is 3D printing contests. They can provide a structured event, though not so structured as to remove creativity, which gives students room to exercise their imagination. Contests can also provide recognition for outstanding ideas as well as an opportunity to learn hard work has benefits.
Here is a list and brief description of various websites which host 3D print contests.
Pinshape puts on a monthly contest which ranges from mechanical design to character modeling challenges. Most are open to the public, however, some are limited to 18 years and younger. Most are minimally structured and students may need a bit more guidance or direction.
Of course a list of this sort would be a foul without one of the greatest learning sites on the internet, Instructables.com. Their contest options are huge. As of today, they currently have ten active contests running. Subject matter includes Van Life, which is a 3D printing contest to display items for life on the road, a Fidget Spinner design challenge, and Explore Science contest, to name a few.
Last but not least, Thingiverse offers different types of educational challenges which tend to be more structured than the previously mentioned. Currently, they are running the Chip-E Challenge and will be awarding robot prizes for the best design which provide Chip-E with the best new talents and skills.
Several websites such as 3dwithus.com, 3dprint.com, and 3dhubs.com maintain lists of potential contest candidates. So, if you are looking to motivate your students, involve them in a challenge…you might be surprised!
Until next time, happy printing!