Promising Students Get Inspired At The MakerBot Store

On the Sunday before Hurricane Sandy came to town, I got a visit from David and Lori Sochol, the parents of my childhood friend Ryan. They brought along their daughter and six kids from A Better Chance of Westport, where Lori serves on the Board of Directors. These are kids who are in the top of their classes in disadvantaged areas, and who have a strong desire to achieve their dreams.

Over brunch I told them about 3D Printing and showed them the MakerBot Watch, designed by my collague Matt. They were very excited and wanted to go see the MakerBot Store, and just so happened that our brunch spot was right around the corner. We got there about 10 minutes before it opened, but luckily there is a MakerBot Replicator 2 in the window, so I used that to explain how the 3D printing process works. The doors opened at noon, and the awesome staff there let us in. Everyone liked the marble run a lot, and the MakerBot Mixtape. They had their own headphones, so they were able to pop them in and listen to some music.

My visitors were very interested in all of the designs and were thinking of things they would make if they had a MakerBot at home. Rhyse, one of the students, spent the summer at a game design program at Carnegie Melon and was excited to learn that a lot of 3D game characters could be printed. I shared my own experience with them, saying that I actually got my start in 3D modeling by creating 3D levels for the video game Jedi Knight in 1997. Ever since then, I wanted to get into a field where I could use my spatial awareness and visual skills, so I studied engineering and stayed close to CAD whenever I could. In fact, I’ve maintained work in CAD modeling since 2002. I talked to the kids about the software I use primarily, AutoCAD and MeshMixer, and about the 3D scanning you can do with 123D Catch.  I explained all of the machines I learned to use at the MIT FabLab, and about the Arduino and machine shop knowledge I got from being a member of the Baltimore Node hackerspace.

I could tell these guys were encouraged to learn more programming and attend open meetings at hackerspaces near them. Some of the boys said they had attended the Mini Maker Faire in Westport and the World Maker Faire in NY. One of them, Ruben, talked about the website design he does now, and that he wants to learn more about designing engines or working on cars.  He was intrigued by the Arduino and the idea of taking his code off the screen and out in to the real world.

It is great to be able to tell someone about 3D printing and then take them directly to the MakerBot Store. Showing them that the technology is real and explaining how it works is very enlightening.  Encouraging kids to learn 3D modeling, 3D printing and Arduino programming gets them ready for the future of making and creating.