3D technology makes learning memorable
Move over playdough, school children are now designing and printing their own 3D book characters, pyramids and ball bearing puzzles using an Australian software-based learning platform - Makers Empire.
Makers Empire CEO, Jon Soong, and his company co-founder, Roland Peddie, invented the first iteration of the software, experimenting with a second-hand 3D printer they bought off Gumtree and trialling the results in primary schools in South Australia.
“The feedback was incredible. The kids loved it and the teachers wanted to know what they could do with it,” Soong says.
Makers Empire has concentrated on developing the software for 3D printers, rather than hardware. But Soong says his company quickly realised having software wasn’t enough because “there was a danger schools would just buy it and then not be able to use it”.
“We developed all the supporting structures, like lesson plans, so teachers would know how to get the learnings out of the software and professional development, both face-to-face and online, through a teachers’ portal,” he says.
“I think the kids that learn these skills today will be well set up for the next generation of jobs.”
Jon Soong CEO Makers Empire
Classrooms of children from the age of four and up are using the platform in Australia, Korea, India, China, and the US.
“It’s an engagement tool for the teachers,” Soong explains.
With an increasing appetite for 3D printing in schools, Soong sees great growth potential. While the company initially focused on selling to individual schools, its goal now is to sell to groups of schools.
With the assistance of investors and Australian Government commercialisation funding and advice, Makers Empire is delivering a pilot project in US schools which will be completed in early 2016.
As part of the Australian Government assistance Commercialisation Advisor Doug Adamson has advised the company on how to enter the marketplace and he is impressed by the teams’ capacity and the potential of their product.
“3D printing is being seen as the future of manufacturing and Makers Empire is well positioned to have a go in that market,” he says.
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Published January 2016