Léman Manhattan Preparatory School (LMPS) has instituted a new STEM curriculum and given students the chance to use a 3D printer as early as first grade. Each week students get the chance to work in groups to create objects in Tinkercad, Cubify Draw or 123D Catch. Then the kids can watch as the school's new MakerBot Replicator 2 begins the process of building their creation.
This exposure to CAD and 3D printing isn't a one-time deal for the children either. The school has first graders work with the technology once each week for forty-five minutes while second through fourth graders work with it twice a week for forty-five minutes. The printer is also earmarked for use in third grade architecture and engineering modules along with their fourth grade buoyancy projects. There is even an after school program in place to give students one-on-one time with the software and the printer.
The purchase of the MakerBot Replicator 2 made LMPS one of the few preparatory schools in the nation to have full-time access to a 3D printer. "We are providing our students with a designing skill set that is essential for the 21st century," said Paul Schmitz, the Lower School Science Teacher overseeing the program. "Although this technology is young, I believe it will become commonplace for people to build and create their own possessions as it becomes more affordable. These projects will also open the door for our students to futures in 3D design, engineering, inventing, innovating and even fashion!"
A number of other programs are working to give young children access to CAD and 3D printing technology too. The City X Project is going worldwide and teaching children as young as eight how to use 3D printers.