The National Science Foundation is writing a large grant to provide inner city youth with 3d printing technology, with the hope that it will teach new and relevant skills for future employment.
As part of the White House's National Week of Making, which ends today, the NSF provided a total of five grants focused on youth development, and the 3d printing project will create a mobile maker lab for young students in America's inner cities to access tools that are all too often available in wealthier school districts.
“An idea at the heart of cognitive development is that children ‘construct’ knowledge by active exploration,” said Elizabeth Bonawitz of Rutgers University Newark and a principal involved in the new grant. “A core tenet of the maker movement is that experiences involving active exploration of ideas through concrete experiences of construction elicit enjoyment and foster lasting learning. We suggest not only that children’s play behavior is like making, but that making is possible because of childhood.”
According to an announcement from the NSF, part of the grant will also involve research in Maryland on which areas of STEM are most and least engaging for young children, with the hope creating better educational programming for local youth to keep them engaged with STEM issues.
“Making offers a great deal of potential for empowering kids and enabling just-in-time learning in STEM,” said Victor Lee, associate professor of Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences at Utah State University. “If we can make sure learning experiences that involve making are made truly accessible to youth of all backgrounds and that maker learning activities are thoughtfully designed and informed by good educational research, we will be really well-positioned as a nation to positively impact an entire generation of learners."