At this year's 3D Printshow, MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis expressed his unhappiness with the current US educational system, which has largely removed "making" courses from the curriculum. As a student, Pettis enjoyed "shop classes" where he no doubt picked up the making bug. But how can this happen today?
MakerBot is attempting to change the situation by creating the "MakerBot Academy", "an educational mission to put a MakerBot® Desktop 3D Printer in every school in the United States of America."
It's a bold vision and challenging, too - there are a lot of schools in the USA. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there were almost 140,000 public schools, private schools and postsecondary institutions. If that many schools participate in the MakerBot Academy, it might be more MakerBots than have ever been produced.
It's not free; It's a coordinated crowdscouring program. Teachers register on DonorsChoose.org, a support site for educators. Donors contribute to each school's entry to gradually gain enough funds to buy a MakerBot.
It's an important program because students, once exposed to 3D print tech, realize that they can create almost anything they can imagine.
And they can imagine a lot.