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A Makerbot In Every Classroom

Unknown Lamer posted about 10 months ago | from the now-do-it-with-a-reprap dept.

Education 152

Daniel_Stuckey writes "At the start of this year, President Obama nicely summed up the grandiose promise of 3D printing — or rather, the hype surrounding it. In his State of the Union address the president suggested the fledgling technology could save manufacturing by ushering in a second industrial revolution. That shout-out inspired a spate of buzzkill blog posts pointing out — rightly enough — that despite its potential, 3D printing is still in its infancy. It's not the panacea for the struggling economy we want it to be, at least not yet. Apparently the naysayers weren't enough to kill the 3D-printing dream, because, with support from the federal government, MakerBot announced its initiative to put a 3D printer in every school in America. The tech startup and the administration are betting big that teaching kids 3D printing is teaching them the skills they'll need as tomorrow's engineers, designers, and inventors." Caveat: Makerbot no longer produces open hardware, and they are pushing proprietary Autodesk software and educational materials as part of the free 3D printer. Makerbot also launched a call for open models of math manipulatives on Thingiverse (you might remember them from elementary school) so that teachers have something useful to print immediately.

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first (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45414033)

yay

Yeah, that's convinced me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45414035)

A private enterprise forcing the government to create a market for a fad toy?

Re:Yeah, that's convinced me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45415665)

"Fad toy?" That's what they said about home computers in 1980. I don't think you belong here...

Re:Yeah, that's convinced me (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45415915)

A home computer in 1980 could do way more than any cheap piece of plastic one of these printers will ever produce. Those kids would be better off with VIC-20's and Sinclairs, and they would be a lot cheaper.

Re:Yeah, that's convinced me (2)

OffaMyLawn (1885682) | about 10 months ago | (#45416183)

A home computer in 1980 could do way more than any cheap piece of plastic one of these printers will ever produce. Those kids would be better off with VIC-20's and Sinclairs, and they would be a lot cheaper.

I have to agree with this one.

My youngest daughter is now in middle school, 7th grade. Her school did not get a Makerbot donated to them, but they did purchase one for the computer lab. I have issue with this, but not because they have a 3D printer. It's because they spend money like this constantly (this isn't the only purchase they've made that I have issue with) and yet they do not even have the proper course materials available for students.

She has a total of one textbook. And it's of the dead tree variety. I don't believe that they need to make the immediate move to digital, though I think it would be beneficial. I have issue with the fact that they just do not have textbooks for all but one of her classes. So if she is having issues with the material that her teacher feels the need to send home with her, there is nothing for her to turn to for assistance.

Thankfully her mother and I are capable of helping her, but what about the students that don't have the family resources available to them for help? We also help tutor one of my daughter's friends, as her parents are either not capable or not willing to make themselves available to do so, but we cannot take on every student that needs help. We do not have that kind of time.

For students in her age range, this is nothing more than a toy. And a waste of money.

I didn't know (1)

Nemyst (1383049) | about 10 months ago | (#45414053)

That President Obama liked — so much he wanted to print it in every school.

Re:I didn't know (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 10 months ago | (#45414167)

I cannot help but wonder when MakerBot can have an open source API to its product; I've little appitite for Autodesk, given today's CAM open source solutions.

Re:I didn't know (3, Interesting)

RenderSeven (938535) | about 10 months ago | (#45415407)

The API is the STL file format, which is pretty open. Just about any CAD program can generate one. Thats fed into either the Makerbot slicer or the open source Skeinforge slicer to generate the X3G files that get sent to the 'Bot. What do you want to do that needs more openness than that?

Welfare is bad... (1)

sunking2 (521698) | about 10 months ago | (#45414055)

Unless it's the corporate type.

Can you guys get over your Makerbot obsession (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45414059)

Makerbot isn't open. They want to sell locked in 3D printers.

Re:Can you guys get over your Makerbot obsession (1)

fauxjargon (2804219) | about 10 months ago | (#45414071)

What's worse is the locked in Autodesk software. There are good open 3d printers but good, open 3d CAD software is a little thin on the ground.

Re:Can you guys get over your Makerbot obsession (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45414245)

My middle schooler just had me install SketchUp on her laptop, so she could finish a project they had started in class. Not open source, but at least easily available.
On a related note, I'm always upset when the teachers require the kids to do stuff in Powerpoint; not only is it not open, but they end up being graded on the effects the program adds rather than the content.

Re:Can you guys get over your Makerbot obsession (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 10 months ago | (#45414953)

Do you want Our Children to be left behind in the tough, competitive, world of actively destructive management for want of dreadful powerpoint skills?

Re:Can you guys get over your Makerbot obsession (1)

RenderSeven (938535) | about 10 months ago | (#45416981)

WTF is "locked in"? Or what is a "locked in printer" in general for that matter? I have one, I use it nearly every day, and if there is anything "locked in" Im completely missing it. I do use 123D Design for modeling, but also Sketchup and Solidworks and Ive tried others and they happily interoperate. I get PLA from China, aftermarket parts from eBay, and Makerbot even supports that. Their website [makerbot.com] even promotes open source 3d modeling software.

Headline: Obama Puts Guns in Every School (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45414065)

That's what typical headlines say. But it is HIS media, so let's see what they really say.

Headline: Obama Puts Toys in Every School

2 years from now: Kindergarteners with iPads and Makerbots print porn!

Re:Headline: Obama Puts Guns in Every School (1)

sunking2 (521698) | about 10 months ago | (#45414095)

It would have been much more clever had you tied your original headline to printable guns.

Guns for Every Child! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45414091)

Let's play Cowboys and Indians with real guns!

Sometimes our President is not very bright.

As a mechanical engineer... (5, Insightful)

hubang (692671) | about 10 months ago | (#45414103)

I'd rather see a shop class in every decent sized high school in the US. Equipped with manual milling machines and lathes. WAY more useful.

Re:As a mechanical engineer... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45414153)

That's because you're a Luddite. 3D printing is the future, it will replace every single manufacturing process ever, from trinkets to filet mignon.

Re:As a mechanical engineer... (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 10 months ago | (#45414195)

Why not have a MakerBot, open sourced, also?

Re:As a mechanical engineer... (1)

hubang (692671) | about 10 months ago | (#45414495)

What do the kids learn by pressing "print?"

kids are the same every generation... (3, Funny)

Thud457 (234763) | about 10 months ago | (#45414575)

plastic penises [xkcd.com] in every classroom!

crap, I posted a obXKCD link. I feel dirty now.

Someone still has to design (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45415571)

The point isn't to teach them how to print as much as it is to teach them how to design.

But, I'm guessing you already knew that.

Re:Someone still has to design (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 10 months ago | (#45416165)

The country is increasingly filled with parking lots laid out by people who 'know how to design.' That is: parking lots where it's a fricking nightmare to park your car because you have to navigate in and around all the islands and berms that probably looked so nice on the layout screen of the CAD program. The whole world is turning grotesquely baroque (please forgive the redundancy) because we have generations of empowered 'designers' who didn't have to do the low level work of implementing anything.

Re:Someone still has to design (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45417269)

Certainly a lot of websites have designers or 'tech teams' that obviously don't use the product. Also happens with parking lots, widgets, and whatever idiot invented the DC Jewel Case with center 'flower' holder that likes to break. Of course, with websites, the tech department has to keep coming up with 'upgrades' that justify their existence. (Ebay is a prime example; between around 2005-2010 they kept upgrading, that now in order to list something for sale it takes 20 minutes, and even someone with lots of experience, still makes errors, like including small box pre-paid priority shipping on a telescope that don't fit.)
The general idea of Universal Design addresses some of this issue, although focused on useabilty by the elderly or disabled.

Re:Someone still has to design (1)

tibman (623933) | about 10 months ago | (#45417317)

Is that worse than the world where parts aren't interchangeable because they've all been hand-crafted?

Re:As a mechanical engineer... (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 10 months ago | (#45416073)

MakerBot is the bottom end of 3D printers. Like an EZ-Bake oven compared to a microwave oven. If such printers are the wave of the future then reasonable tools should be introduced instead, like printers that can create something that looks and feels like a real product that are at least within the ballpark of traditional shop tools.

Re:As a mechanical engineer... (4, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | about 10 months ago | (#45414221)

How about auto repair? I think it's a good place to start with mechanical skills because everybody owns a car, and knowing some basics will save you money even if you don't choose to do much yourself, let alone be employed in the field. It exposes you to mechanical, electrical, and hydraulic systems, and some actual motivation to fabricate or recondition parts in a subsequent shop class.

Re:As a mechanical engineer... (1)

hubang (692671) | about 10 months ago | (#45414311)

Auto shop is what got me into engineering!

Re:As a mechanical engineer... (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | about 10 months ago | (#45414357)

Mod parent up!!!!

This is so true. I can't count the number of friends that I have that have no idea how to change a flat, check oil levels, check tire pressure or even add windshield washer fluid, or even change a burned out tail-light bulb."

Their response is always, "I'll call AAA, the tires don't look flat, that's what the oil changes are for..."

Re:As a mechanical engineer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45414463)

Mod parent up!!!!

This is so true. I can't count the number of friends that I have that have no idea how to change a flat, check oil levels, check tire pressure or even add windshield washer fluid, or even change a burned out tail-light bulb."

Their response is always, "I'll call AAA, the tires don't look flat, that's what the oil changes are for..."

There is a huge difference between learning those things in an educational setting, and giving a crap about actually doing any of them. None of the things you listed would be hard for a literate person without any past experience to figure out in a brief amount of time, considering the owner's manual details them nicely. Alas, the challenge is making the person _give a shit_ about how to change a tire or check the oil, when they can afford to pay someone else to do it so easily.

Follow up: Do you know yourself and/or expect everyone else to know how to bake a good loaf of bread?

Re:As a mechanical engineer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45415019)

Problem with your follow up. It's midnight. You're 100 miles from anybody. Is there ever a time in this situation where you really need to know how to bake a loaf a bread? How about knowing how to change a flat?

Re:As a mechanical engineer... (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | about 10 months ago | (#45415309)

I don't recall that baking a loaf of will get someone out of immediate danger given that baking a loaf of bread takes quite a few hours. Most of that is you standing around waiting for it to either a. rise of b. bake in the oven. If you are waiting for either, you are most likely NOT in danger and are probably sitting on your couch watching TV or doing something else that is not as important as changing a flat tire on the side of the road.

and yes I can bake a loaf of bread.

Like AAA vs dependent on AAA ... (1)

perpenso (1613749) | about 10 months ago | (#45416895)

I can't count the number of friends that I have that have no idea how to change a flat, check oil levels, check tire pressure or even add windshield washer fluid, or even change a burned out tail-light bulb." Their response is always, "I'll call AAA, the tires don't look flat, that's what the oil changes are for..."

When I asked my parents to sign an application for a learner's permit they told me they would be happy to do so after I demonstrated that I could check tire pressure, add air and change a tire; check and add oil, radiator fluid and wiper fluid. Later my Dad made me learn to drive a manual transmission. My regular car while learning was an automatic and I tested in this car but my Dad had me drive a manual a little bit too. He didn't recommend getting manual, he just thought I should know how to drive one just in case.

My parents liked AAA but they didn't believe in being dependent upon it. That AAA should be more of a convenience and not a necessity.

Re:As a mechanical engineer... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 10 months ago | (#45414993)

How about auto repair? I think it's a good place to start with mechanical skills because everybody owns a car, and knowing some basics will save you money even if you don't choose to do much yourself, let alone be employed in the field. It exposes you to mechanical, electrical, and hydraulic systems, and some actual motivation to fabricate or recondition parts in a subsequent shop class.

I get the impression that that would be frowned up on as a deviation from the 'if something scary or unexpected happens, your dealer is your only hope' trajectory that vehicle manufacturers seem hellbent on going down.

Re:As a mechanical engineer... (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 10 months ago | (#45415497)

I see this all the time even on web boards.

Q: "Do I really need to change my brake rotors with the pads? What's the allowable tolerance on the original thickness?"

A: "Are you crazy! Your brakes are there to save your live, now you're going to skimp to save a few bucks!? Just take it in and quit endangering everybody!"

Re:As a mechanical engineer... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 10 months ago | (#45415679)

On the plus side, people still get to ask that question. We've gotten to the point where it would be relatively inexpensive to 'chip' many of the major FRUs, printer cartridge style, to allow the car to grab a timestamp(and if it has OnStar or an equivalent, it'll be a good timestamp) when a new part is installed, impose time or milage based expiration/replacement intervals, and reject 3rd party components that don't fully implement the authentication system... That would be fun.

Re:As a mechanical engineer... (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 10 months ago | (#45416211)

There is now a sensor with a wireless link in each wheel hub in every new automobile. It measures tire air pressure and sends the status wirelessly to the car chassis computer. It spins round and round in the wheels. And it adds a significant amount to the cost of the car, and an even more significant amount to replacing the air stem in your car if it fails.

Also, give me a fucking break.

Re:As a mechanical engineer... (4, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 10 months ago | (#45415155)

This entire initiative, as great as it is, ignores a small problem: We aren't raising our children to be builders, we're raising them to be consumers. Consumers have no initiative, and see no point in things like shop class, or building things... afterall, isn't that why we import indians and chinese?

Also, as soon as some high school student builds a gun with the 3D printer, that'll go away.

Re:As a mechanical engineer... (1)

Reapy (688651) | about 10 months ago | (#45415469)

Nah. I've heard this argument since I was a kid. Sure we are consumers, we are also producers. It is easier than ever to make things. There is a guide or place to ask how to make ANYTHING on the internet. If I am motivated to make or fix something on my own, I have the guidance to start at it immediately.

And in terms of building this online on our computers, there are more tools than ever out there. With unity I can make a game quite easily, and if I don't want that much detail I can get things like gamemaker, or make a mod, or any number of frameworks that exist out there to assist.

I enjoy making miniature terrain from time to time, and I'm only really into this because of finding some great websites with instructions on what materials to use and tips for building things.

Look, people are lazy, we have always been lazy, very few people are doing productive things with their time 24x7 outside of their jobs, if that. That is nothing new. To boot, if we aren't being lazy and consuming, then the incentive for production is gone as well. The two things work in tandem with one another and just because companies are trying to entice us with advertising doesn't mean we have guns to our head and have no choice in the matter.

Re:As a mechanical engineer... (3, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 10 months ago | (#45415857)

Nah. I've heard this argument since I was a kid.

The reason it has been around so long, perhaps is an indicator it has merit.

Sure we are consumers, we are also producers.

Find me something within arm's reach that has Made In America on it. Chances are, there isn't one; And odds are very, very good, it won't be one of the first five things you grab.

It is easier than ever to make things. There is a guide or place to ask how to make ANYTHING on the internet. If I am motivated to make or fix something on my own, I have the guidance to start at it immediately.

I think I see a flaw in your cunning plan; You aren't motivated. You're just saying that if you were, then yeah, shit could happen. But it ain't happening... because you, like hundreds of millions of others, don't want to.

Look, people are lazy, we have always been lazy, very few people are doing productive things with their time 24x7 outside of their jobs, if that. That is nothing new.

Okay, hold on to that for a minute and then consider again the statement you're upset about: We're consumers, not builders.

just because companies are trying to entice us with advertising doesn't mean we have guns to our head and have no choice in the matter.

"guns to our head", phrase: It means "I am deeply conservative". Because really, you types are the only ones that ever think there's a gun to your head... and perhaps only a miniscule amount of guns have ever been put to the heads of anyone uttering this line. Basically, if you utter this phrase, I put you in the moron category and move on, because your arguments will invariably be bullshit propaganda, with a side of cognitive distortion, served on the silver platter of self-importance.

Look... I just said we're creating a culture of consumers. That's why nobody wants to build anything; Instant gratification. Everybody's a winner. You can have it all! It's called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it. We're teaching our kids that you don't need to work hard to succeed -- you just need to open your mouth and let someone shove spoonfuls of product into it.

Re:As a mechanical engineer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45416315)

How about auto repair? I think it's a good place to start with mechanical skills because everybody owns a car

Car ownership is dropping fast. The 18-30 generation has 28% fewer licensed drivers and 30% fewer own cars than a decade ago. Millenials are overwhelmingly more likely to consider owning a car to be a luxury than a necessity compared to previous generations did 15 or 30 years ago. You might as well teach kids how to shoe a horse for all the relevance it will hold in their lives.

http://www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/2012/10/end-car-ownership-developed-world-least/3452/

Better in a shop department anyway (1)

ron_ivi (607351) | about 10 months ago | (#45414777)

I worry about the fumes of a makerbot in the poorly ventilated classrooms in many schools.

At least if they put the 3D-printers in a shop class, they surely have better airflow.

Re:Better in a shop department anyway (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 10 months ago | (#45415005)

Filtration would be pretty trivial, at least if the patents on having an enclosed fabrication surface have expired...

Re:As a mechanical engineer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45414983)

Speaking as a Physics teacher in an overcrowded high school, we ditched shop class a long time ago. I just want something that I can fit into a corner somewhere.

Re:As a mechanical engineer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45415365)

When I went to High school (1995-97) we had a Machine Shop with Manual milling machines, surface grinders and lathes even one of these bad boys http://its.fvtc.edu/machshop1/drillpress/RadialDrlParts.htm that were all 1940's and 50's machine tools donated by Fairbanks Morse

In the Cad Lab we had a Small CNC lathe and Mill

Between the two one could pretty much make anything end result was we always had a good strong Vhechal in Challenge Wisconsin http://www.challengewisconsin.org/

Re:As a mechanical engineer... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 10 months ago | (#45416149)

I'm not sure that is more useful. Don't you think we're moving towards additive machining rather than subtractive? The numbers of machinists have been dwindling steadily in the USA, both automotive and general. In the automotive case, centralized rebuilders have taken over most of the business. What would really be useful would be welding, but that's really fairly dangerous stuff and best kept in the colleges. I'm ambivalent about having machining in high schools for that reason as it is. Wood shop is a good balance between danger and usefulness. You can still build a lot of good, useful stuff out of wood. And as an added bonus, if you put the tooling into it a little too hard or deep, you have a much lesser risk of flying metal fragments.

I think we're moving more towards a world where nothing is rebuilt when machining would be required, and instead it's recycled. Or if it does require rebuilding, it is always done centrally.

I had 10 math manipulatives in school (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 10 months ago | (#45414135)

We were taught to use them regularly. If they didn't suit our needs we needed to do the rest in our head. They were portable, too; though not interchangeable with other sets. They also came at no cost to the school (though I did know some kids who had only 5, at no fault of their own).

Re:I had 10 math manipulatives in school (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45414399)

Only 10?

With hands and feet, you can use each hand for a number between zero and 31, and by sliding your fingers and adding with your toes when your right pinky matches up with a 1 on the other hand... you then have mastered your multiplication tables up to 31x31 without memorizing 961 things that a computer is better at.
All that is left is some multiplying by 2 and conditional adding of 1 to get the result back into decimal for those poor souls that only have 5 manipulatives.

My teachers always wondered why I wanted a few dozen pencils during tests involving numbers expressed in scientific notation.

Makerbot Not For Kids (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45414137)

If you think you can unpack a makerbot, press the button and start printing Eiffel towers, you need to get out more.
It's definitely a DIY machine and produces more failures than successes.

Re:Makerbot Not For Kids (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45414389)

That's because you're a Luddite. The other day I saw a story on Fark about 3D printing a Sega game controller. The 3D printed object looked just like the original part, well worth the 900$ for the 3D printer.

Re:Makerbot Not For Kids (3, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | about 10 months ago | (#45414583)

There are high school programs that have 3D printers. The kids develop the skills over a number of years to do useful things with them. The 3D printer is one of the many carrots for learning the skills.

Here is one area where a 3D printer can encourage students to learn a skill. Suppose that you were reverse engineering some object with many pieces Each student would have to measure and design a piece in the CAD software. Now, most students do not understand why good measurement is necessary, or why they need to make an effort to draw the object exactly, or how many measurements are really needed. So each student draws and the pieces are put together in the software, and adjustments are made because the pieces are not going to fit exactly. Eventually the group of students gets something that fits together in the software and prints. Inevitably one or two pieces are not going to fit together in the physical prototype, debugging will have to happen, and much learning will go on.

The problem is that such a process is long, there are not many grades involved, and students who are not motivated and curios tend not to benefit very much. There has to be a reason to have a tool in the classroom, and a understanding of how it is going to be used. otherwise it will, like the laser printer, be used to print shoes.

Re:Makerbot Not For Kids (1)

fauxjargon (2804219) | about 10 months ago | (#45414795)

I think this is really the only case to be made for 3d printers / CNC in schools. If I ran a private school, there would be a class where students partnered up - each designs a simple project, produces shop drawings and hands it off to their partner, who makes their product and vice versa.

Re:Makerbot Not For Kids (2)

hypergreatthing (254983) | about 10 months ago | (#45415323)

Do i think a kid can unpack a markerbot, download a design for Eiffel towers and start printing them immediately? yes.
I would expect kids to do this and see how easy and powerful a tool it will be. Then ease them into making modifications and then designing their own inventions from scratch.

It would be like woodshop 2.0, with less buzz saws.

Unfortunately... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 10 months ago | (#45414143)

For what cheap injection-molded shit sells for once it is a 'math manipulative, aligned with standards!', rather than a generic plastic toy, 3d printing them might actually save money.

I was shocked the first time I idly leafed through an educational supply catalog.

More things to break... (2)

HockeyPuck (141947) | about 10 months ago | (#45414189)

Film projectors that "stuttered"
Paper printers that jammed, ran out of ink etc...
Laptops that get dropped, crash etc..

Nothing like putting something even more complex into a teacher's classroom for them to troubleshoot.

Is 3D printing really going to help kids do math and read better? I don't recall PrintShop running on an Apple IIe making me a better reader, though I did crank out some banners...

Re:More things to break... (1)

Ksevio (865461) | about 10 months ago | (#45417305)

So just because something might break means we shouldn't use it? I know that the use of different tools in woodshop gave me much more ways to work on my projects, and even broken parts gave insight into how they worked and how to repair them. For instance, film projectors stuttering is most often due to damaged film or faulty loop sizes.

As a former teenager, I predict... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45414255)

... a glut in the high school supply of printed dildos and bongs. You heard it here first!

Re:As a former teenager, I predict... (1)

PPH (736903) | about 10 months ago | (#45414521)

Guns.

Another gizmo to be funded by taxpayers... (4, Interesting)

mi (197448) | about 10 months ago | (#45414267)

Since 1962 the per-pupil costs of public schools has quadrupled [ed.gov] (inlation-adjusted — the nominal increase is 25-times!), while the results remain just as — if not even more — disappointing. Indeed, merely 30% of 8th-graders are deemed proficient in reading [mediamatters.org] . Will a "makerbot" help solve this fundamental problem? Somehow I doubt it...

Re:Another gizmo to be funded by taxpayers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45414635)

Since 1962 the per-pupil costs of public schools has quadrupled [ed.gov] (inlation-adjusted — the nominal increase is 25-times!), while the results remain just as — if not even more — disappointing. Indeed, merely 30% of 8th-graders are deemed proficient in reading [mediamatters.org] . Will a "makerbot" help solve this fundamental problem? Somehow I doubt it...

What would that "fundamental problem" be exactly? That education outpaces inflation? It takes a very casual understanding of economics to know why this is happening. Can you figure it out? Here is a hint: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_income_in_the_United_States#Over_time.2C_by_race_and_sex

Cliffs in case you are still too dense: when the cost of the labor force enabling education in the US triples, you can expect the cost of providing the education to do the same (see: 1961 to 2004.) Still want to bicker about how education is too expensive? Clearly you know how expensive it is to be ignorant.

Re:Another gizmo to be funded by taxpayers... (2)

mi (197448) | about 10 months ago | (#45415199)

What would that "fundamental problem" be exactly?

That increases in funding failed — for some reason — to improve education quality.

when the cost of the labor force enabling education in the US triples

The per-pupil costs not tripled, but quadrupled — and not all of those monies are spent on (the more expensive) labor...

Clearly you know how expensive it is to be ignorant.

Come, come — is not it customary to exclude present company in a polite argument?

Re:Another gizmo to be funded by taxpayers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45416543)

What would that "fundamental problem" be exactly?

That increases in funding failed — for some reason — to improve education quality.

when the cost of the labor force enabling education in the US triples

The per-pupil costs not tripled, but quadrupled — and not all of those monies are spent on (the more expensive) labor...

Clearly you know how expensive it is to be ignorant.

Come, come — is not it customary to exclude present company in a polite argument?

The time periods in which the data overlaps shows a tripling of each, if you took a second to actually compare the two. Certainly there is a lot of potential for improving education in the US, but a blanket assertion like "it is too expensive" despite the fact that there is actually an economic justification for it to be priced the way it is does nothing to further that goal. Also, see my other reply in this thread, reading comprehension scores in the US have *not changed much* in the past 40 years, so when you try to wave a statistic like "merely 30% of 8th-graders are deemed proficient in reading" when that is actually the same rate it was back when education was "much less expensive" (by your standards) you don't really have a leg to stand on.

Re:Another gizmo to be funded by taxpayers... (1)

mi (197448) | about 10 months ago | (#45416837)

but a blanket assertion like "it is too expensive"

I made no such assertions — my point was, adding more money did not help improve results.

so when you try to wave a statistic like "merely 30% of 8th-graders are deemed proficient in reading" when that is actually the same rate it was back when education was "much less expensive" (by your standards) you don't really have a leg to stand on.

My leg is in that we got — by your own admission — the same (at best) results despite paying more for it. Thus, any increases in expenditures were money wasted and the original problem — whatever it was — had little-to-nothing to do with lack of funding.

Re:Another gizmo to be funded by taxpayers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45415417)

What would that "fundamental problem" be exactly?

Gee I dont know maybe reading comprehension?

Indeed, merely 30% of 8th-graders are deemed proficient in reading

Or did you just skim and saw 'quadrupled'?

I was one of those 30%. I took it upon myself to be in the other 70%. Instead of teaching our children to learn. We teach them to remember. You need to remember things but knowledge is useless without the ability to use it.

when the cost of the labor force enabling education in the US triples
So we are at 1.25x then? Instead of 4x? So it costs 25% more with the exact same result.

Clearly you know how expensive it is to be ignorant.
Hey pot your black. You too kettle.

I could see a makerbot being used extensively in a shop class type setting. But that would be about it. I am sure there are other uses. But I am falling a little short in seeing those that other methods do not already cover that cost wildly less. Yes cost is an issue when some teachers have to buy their own markers/chalk because the school board blew the budget on 'new' books 5 years in a row.

Re:Another gizmo to be funded by taxpayers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45416417)

What would that "fundamental problem" be exactly?

Gee I dont know maybe reading comprehension?

Indeed, merely 30% of 8th-graders are deemed proficient in reading

Or did you just skim and saw 'quadrupled'?

Let's think critically, shall we? A catch-phrase like "merely 30% of 8th-graders are deemed proficient in reading" is grabbing but he provides no evidence to suggest that this rate is higher or lower than it was 10 or 30 or 50 years ago. Indeed, it could be that the rate is getting _better_ (i am not saying it is, but the evidence presented here merely does not disprove it) but you jumped to the conclusion that this single unsubstantiated statistic is proof that the system is delivering less value that it was in the past.

Heres a bonus, you can use the below site to see how this statisic looks over time (cliffs notes version: you may want to watch the snarky "pot and kettle" comeback next time you dumbass, reading comprehension scores have been steady for the past 40 years).
http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/naepdata/

Re:Another gizmo to be funded by taxpayers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45414973)

I never understand this...as someone who has taught K-16, I don't see faculty salaries increasing in *any* public institutions at *any* grade level. As programs and extra-curricular activities are getting cut all over the place, what is all that money going toward? (Hint: Bureaucracy!)

Re:Another gizmo to be funded by taxpayers... (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 10 months ago | (#45416297)

The money is going to new buildings and facilities. The local building contractors have a lot of clout with the school board, and they don't get to do nearly enough 'full price top-of-the-line' construction jobs for the private sector.

Re:Another gizmo to be funded by taxpayers... (1)

mi (197448) | about 10 months ago | (#45416897)

Whatever the problem is, adding more money will not help solve it — that's the point... At best, things will stay the same (just at higher costs). At worst, the pie will become juicy enough to attract outright criminals...

idiotic when we have hungry students with no books (2)

SuperBanana (662181) | about 10 months ago | (#45414289)

Makerbot also launched a call for open models of math manipulatives on Thingiverse (you might remember them from elementary school) so that teachers have something useful to print immediately.

Why are we encouraging schools to buy thousands of dollars in equipment (the 3D printer, the computer to drive it, the materials, etc - nevermind the teacher getting sent off to training seminars and whatnot) when we don't have enough textbooks for students [google.com] , teachers for decades have been paying out-of-pocket for school supplies [google.com] , and students are not performing well because they're hungry [google.com] ?

We don't need 3D printers. We need paper, chalk, textbooks, and sandwiches.

Re:idiotic when we have hungry students with no bo (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | about 10 months ago | (#45414359)

We don't need 3D printers. We need paper, chalk, textbooks, and sandwiches.

What an awful slogan. How about, "Markerboards, not Makerbots!"

Re:idiotic when we have hungry students with no bo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45414659)

You Luddite! You're just terrified and afraid of new technology, grandad! People will 3D print paper, chalk, textbooks and sandwiches! They'll just download them! Woooo! Technology!

Re:idiotic when we have hungry students with no bo (2)

quintessentialk (926161) | about 10 months ago | (#45415667)

I wouldn't say 'idiotic' -- I believe you don't need to fix all the problems in the world before you're allowed to do new things. That said, I come from a family of teachers, and that insight leads me to agree with you. I'm especially offended by teachers buying school supplies out of pocket. If I, an employee of a large organization, had to buy office supplies out of pocket, I'd assume the company was on its way down the toilet or at the very least had major management problems. Teachers are somehow conditioned to think having to buy supplies for your classroom and your students/customers is o.k... or they have too much empathy. Again, there's no reason you can't have both makerbots AND fix these problems, but my experience is that investment from technical companies and press celebrate enrichment in either a few affluent schools or in the one poor school that has the luck of being the example case. Meanwhile, there are plenty of schools remaining without enough pens and paper, let alone current generation computers, ipads, makerbots, etc....

Fix parenting and the basics first (2, Insightful)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 10 months ago | (#45414349)

Feed your kids breakfast. Teach them respect for authority. Remove shiny attention-span robbers from the house. Teach them to learn first. A Makerbot just throws money at it, layers more crap on top of a rocky foundation, and kicks the can of responsibility down the road.

Re:Fix parenting and the basics first (1)

fermion (181285) | about 10 months ago | (#45416965)

I suppose if I had breakfast in school I might have been easier to handle, but I am was a stubborn child and night owl so I never wanted food before like 10am. Of course I watched too much tv and learned quite a bit from it, considering how put down it is. And don't get started on how I went to summer camp on a college campus at 11 where we put in front of teletype and taught to type in and compile basic programs because it was kind of cheaper babysitting for working parent. I mean that was awful for my future. Or learning how to type at 12 instead of endless math tutorials. Or the fact that my high school threw money away on a mainframe that we all learned Fortran when we were 14. I mean we could have been sitting there reading textbook, filling out worksheets, preparing for standardized tests, focusing on the fact that I did not always have all I wanted to eat. Instead I was learning how to draw, program computers, build things with tools. That you for reminding me how lucky I am to escape the education that everyone else seems to want.

Northen Venezuela ? (1)

x0ra (1249540) | about 10 months ago | (#45414449)

What is the difference between Obama printing money to fill his socialist dreams, and Maduro sending armed troopers in electronic stores to lower prices a gun point to give every venezuelian a cheap 50" TV set ?

Re:Northen Venezuela ? (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 10 months ago | (#45415221)

Venezuela is collapsing faster than America.

This will end well... (1)

mpaque (655244) | about 10 months ago | (#45414485)

Great idea. Record sales and profits for Makerbot, and a broken-down dust catcher in the corner of every classroom. Meanwhile, the teachers will still be sending notes home at the beginning of each school year asking for donations of paper, pens and pencils, and other basic supplies.

Re:This will end well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45417341)

Except for the supplies that could be made using the bot.....by the students learning to use them.

Makerspaces (1)

Phoenix666 (184391) | about 10 months ago | (#45414529)

I think a makerspace in every school makes more sense. No, fossils, a makerspace is not the same thing as shop class. Teaching kids to code, work with CAD programs, and see the result print out on printers not only teaches STEM more effectively to the kids who are wired to like STEM anyway, but makes the process more accessible to kids who are, say, arty or sporty. So putting 3D printers like Fab@Home's would make more sense than MakerBot because it's more versatile, and gene-sequencing machines, centrifuges, autoclaves, and such for biohacking because future manufacturing could well be bio-based. CnC machines and lathes come into the mix as well. Lastly, dedicating a significant portion of instruction time to the makerspace rather than as an option for "kids who aren't nerdy" is the only way to cement America's place in the technological future.

Such a waste of material and technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45414601)

Do we really need to stuff feed our kids all these fancy toys, instead of proper training for teachers and students on how to think and how to perform basic but fundamental tasks?

The proliferation of Googling in classrooms created kids that think research is about getting answers faster instead of coming up with their own answers. Guessing is less and less important since now answers are no longer blowing in the winds, they are flowing on the web. Something being correct could completely be based on "I googled it!". Those kids are like chickens on a farm getting all they need in a cage without ever step away from the computer. Don't tell me it's OK because we adults do this all the time -- do you let your kids watch (let along participate in) sex in action when they are young? Habits formed at younger age tend to have longer and more significant effects on their brains.

What would having this kind of things in classrooms give us? I don't know. Maybe more tendency of not caring about things -- more of the throwing-away mentality, maybe? With a push of button, as long as I have the files, I will be able to get whatever I desire. Now the cage just get slightly smaller for those poor chickens.

I don't know, it all seems to be the wrong priorities.

Re:Such a waste of material and technology (1)

Reapy (688651) | about 10 months ago | (#45415551)

Replace "google" with "encyclopedia" and you take me back to my middle school days. Teachers say the same thing, fact is kids don't take certain things seriously till they get older, cause they are kids. I didn't, but do now that I'm older, yet I don't expect my perceived wisdom to suddenly transpose onto the generation behind me. They will be saying the same things about the generations behind them though.

I do agree with you though, if there is one constant it is a teacher's inability to handle technology. If they couldn't get the film projectors or overheads to work, they certainly aren't getting a 3d printer going. Though I guess they could be a good addition to any wood/metal shop a school might have.

I'm impressed (1)

Laxori666 (748529) | about 10 months ago | (#45414751)

I'm extremely impressed that 3d printers will be seen as the economic boon they actually will be, instead of the Luddite approach of crying that it will kill thousands of manufacturing jobs - which it will, of course, but that doesn't mean at all that it will be a net economic negative.

Re:I'm impressed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45415367)

I'd like to see what manufacturing jobs it will kill, given that the toy 3D printers make trinkets and the high-end ones are so specialized they need an entire staff to run and they certainly are not meant to mass-manufacture anything. In any case, who makes the raw materials for 3D printers? Oh yeah, Luddites in gloomy old factories with their pre-3D machinery...

Re:I'm impressed (1)

Laxori666 (748529) | about 10 months ago | (#45415565)

Well eventually, anything you need that's smaller than, say, a person, you could just print. Shoes, chairs, clothing, furniture with some assembly required, tools, etc. Maybe simple electronics? Depends how good the printers get. Everyone would print their own things individually. So manufacturing jobs that make those things will go down the drain. Of course you still need raw materials, those jobs would be safe.

Step away from the CNC... (1)

fauxjargon (2804219) | about 10 months ago | (#45414753)

Although the problems with closed-source Makerbot printers and proprietary software from Autodesk are standard /. fare, I think the real issue with the 3d printing hype is how disconnected people are from actually making things themselves without the use of CNC equipment. I think it's also why people are so obsessed with food, it is the only DIY thing most people do anymore.

The future, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45414793)

3D Printers are the future.

I just got two Wifi parabolic reflectors made to order. $6.50 at the local library.

Re:The future, (1)

morgauxo (974071) | about 10 months ago | (#45415523)

Plastic reflectors?

I Really Like... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45414837)

I really like the way you used the pejorative phrase "inspired a spate of buzzkill blog posts" to describe fact and reality. Let me guess, you're one of these hopey changey types that thinks that if we just think positive thoughts then they alone will change the reality of the situation?

Reporting facts and stating obvious reality is not a buzzkill, unless it is an idiot that is buzzing in a fantasy world.

Toxic Emmissions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45414925)

I wouldn't want a makerbot in a classroom, unless it was placed in an active ventilation container. There have been numerous articles regarding the toxic emissions that 3D printers put out when the plastic is melted. Not safe.

This won't last long... (2)

Kaenneth (82978) | about 10 months ago | (#45414939)

Just wait until a kid prints a gun at school...

Kids and printers (1)

phorm (591458) | about 10 months ago | (#45415779)

Given my experiences with regular printers in High Schools, (tracking down some random student who had printed a few dozen pages of profanity to a shared printer), I'd imagine there will be a proliferation of many "interesting" phallic-shared objects coming through these printers...

TMI man, TMI! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45417029)

many "interesting" phallic-shared objects coming

That's a hell of a Freudian slip there phorm.

About as successful (1)

Saethan (2725367) | about 10 months ago | (#45415069)

This'll be about as successful as getting a laptop to every student. Now, 3D printers in, say, shop class in middle/high school? Much more reasonable.

Who will teach them? (3, Interesting)

morgauxo (974071) | about 10 months ago | (#45415515)

My high school had a 1 million dollar computer lab gifted to it. That was quite a bit in 1990s money considering that I had a graduating class of under 40! The problem was that the only teacher who knew anything about computers was the band teacher. He was good, don't get me wrong but his musical love/responsiblities came first and he didn't really have time to teach computer class. After he struggled to fit in a programming class for 1 semester he realized he couldn't do it. After that about the most advanced thing in the room was Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing!

Maybe school teachers are more techically proficient today? I doubt it! Even if they are.. with all the finiky settings that go into getting a 3d printer to work right, and all the failure prone parts that go into one... I don't see how this can possibly work!

The "hype" of 3D printing? (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 10 months ago | (#45415721)

Look, scoff all you want, but here at the UW we can now use 3D printers to literally print compostable objects using the same "plastic" we use to make forks and spoons and plates from that are compostable - to grow more food.

Think about it.

Reusable chairs and tables that can be composted. Fashion footwear you can throw in the yard waste bin to be turned back into food when they're out of fashion.

You really don't get it, do you.

(follow the UW links for Sustainable products at green.washington.edu if you don't get that)

The Green Revolution 3 is here. And it's happening whether you want it to or not.

Re:The "hype" of 3D printing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45416051)

Reusable chairs and tables that can be composted. Fashion footwear you can throw in the yard waste bin to be turned back into food when they're out of fashion.

Tables and chairs should last just about forever. Creating a disposable version of what should be a durable item just because you can dispose of it "responsibly" is nonsense.

"Fashion" anything is part of the problem, and enabling it is not the solution.

Re:The "hype" of 3D printing? (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 10 months ago | (#45416531)

Tables and chairs should last just about forever. Creating a disposable version of what should be a durable item just because you can dispose of it "responsibly" is nonsense.

"Fashion" anything is part of the problem, and enabling it is not the solution.

See, this is where you let the Perfect be the enemy of the Good.

Should does not mean will.

People do certain things. They make stupid beer steins and telephones out of football helmets. They wear one use only dresses for weddings.

Making those easy to compost and use to grow more food means it doesn't go in a landfill to pollute more, it gets recycled into something useful when they finally clean house.

Re:The "hype" of 3D printing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45416763)

Recycling will never keep up with the amount if trash people create, especially if you make trash creation easy and further encourage it with "compostable!" greenwashing.

You can't do right doing wrong.

A **teacher** in every classroom (3, Insightful)

globaljustin (574257) | about 10 months ago | (#45416279)

Let's start by getting proper pay for and hiring more teachers.

These fabricator things can be a great learning tool **For a quaified teacher to use**....it's not really on the radar for most schools right now.

Most schools are busy figuring out which teachers to lay off b/c of unnecessary budget cuts.

To the point above about "makerbots"

It is definitely hype. It's embarassing b/c essentially its the same thing as that plastic mold machine at tourist attractions that can make you a plastic souvenier of the Washington Monument.

Fabricator technology has improved greatly, but only in the commercial/industrial usage areas.

It **will** eventually reach the consumer level but now it is far,, far from it.

I **hate** tech hype! Wastes BILLIONS.

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