UK-based Laykanics is an interesting service that offers monthly 3D print-based project kits that I think could be very suitable for educators looking to expose students to 3D printing.
The kits are composed of electronics and other non-3D printed items that are used to complete the project, as well as the 3D models you’d use to 3D print the required structural parts. You can print them on your own equipment, or if you don’t have a 3D printer, you can send them to an external service like Shapeways or Sculpteo, and more inexpensively to 3D Hubs’ community 3D printing network.
What’s in a kit? They explain:
The kit is a set of 10 to 12 external components that you will need to finish your projects. Because we want to add excitement and functionality to your printed parts, we think you’ll make use of miniature electrical motors, solar panels, bolts, nuts, rubber seals, steel axles….etc. In addition to the explanation on each project, we also give you basic technical information about each kit component so that you can create your own devices too!
Pricing is not bad; a free level provides you with one kit, but if you opt for a recurring membership, you’ll pay £28.50 (USD$41) setup up fee and £5 (USD$7) per month thereafter. Or you can pay £50 (USD$72) once for an entire year’s membership.
There seems to be several different kits currently available, and they explain they’re working on more for the future.
Currently they list six kits on their website, including an intriguing “Stridr”, which seems to be a balloon-powered vehicle, as well as several other mechanical devices.
Might be worth checking out, if you have a class of engineer-flavored students.