How To Fund 3D Printers For Your School

Schools around the world, whether K-12 or universities, are implementing cutting edge technology and makerspaces to equip students with 21st century design and problem solving skills. 3D printing is now one of the most popular and effective ways to drive classroom excitement, and incorporating the tech has gotten even easier as more 3D printing lesson plans are published to Thingiverse Education.

It’s no mystery that getting approval and funding for next-generation makerspaces can be tough, especially when working with limited education budgets. Education grants are valuable resources for gathering the funding necessary to provide students access to 3D printers, though searching to find which one is right for you can be time consuming. To make things easier, MakerBot developed a Grant Resource Guide to help you find and apply for relevant grants.
Check out the full Grant Resource Guide!

Here are some examples of how a well organized grant list can help you plan your applications and find what grants best fit your institution.

  • Educators of America Grant: Grants are awarded to a teacher that is in need of an effective technological tool that will assist in bettering student achievement.
    Applications are reviewed quarterly (January, April, July, October).


    First Energy STEM Classroom Grant: Grants are awarded to programs that support classroom projects and teacher professional-development initiatives focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
    Application period opens summer and closes late September.

    Hearst Foundation: Grants are awarded to early childhood, K-12 education, and
    professional development programs (but has a large focus on higher
    education) preparing students to thrive in global society.
    Applications are accepted year round and are reviewed within 4-6 weeks.

In addition to the Grant Resource Guide, be sure to check out Thingiverse Education, the world’s largest collection of 3D printing curriculum.

Repost from Makerbot

Will EdTech Ever Replace Books?

Technology has changed the way students learn in the classroom. With new technology like mixed reality offering immersive learning experiences, there are more opportunities for collaboration and engagement in the classroom than ever before. The new tools of edtech are exciting for many educators and parents but unnerving for those who want to preserve the old-fashioned "book learning" that has proven itself for generations. What's at stake when knowledge emerges from a computer or mixed reality station instead of a textbook? The answer to that question should put even the most traditional among us at ease: Books aren't leaving the classroom but instead complementing modern teaching styles and techniques.

Students Still Enjoy Books

E-books were perhaps the first widespread evidence of a shift from paper to virtual information sources. But despite the prevalence of online booksellers hawking electronic copies of classics, a 2010 New York Times report discovered students still prefer paper textbooks because the inability to flip pages, write notes in margins and highlight sections created a preference for printed pages. Although the latest E-book readers offer digital versions of these bookish habits, the report's consensus is that kids will not use technology just for technology's sake. There are times when printed versions are more practical, portable, and easier on the eyes.

Looking at History -- Literally

It's often forgotten that book learning itself replaced an even older form of transmitting information: oral history. In generations past, history was understood through the stories of elders and not dry descriptions in textbooks.

While many classrooms do integrate storytelling, especially at younger ages, modules are still largely paper-based, requiring students to sit still and absorb written information. Edtech can integrate stories with multimedia components like sounds to enrich the narrative and create a long-lasting, memorable impression of time-honored fables and tales from cultures around the world. When stories and fables are more active and alive, students are more likely to retain not only the moral lesson learned from them, but the vocabulary and other elements as well. They can then transfer their knowledge into their own creative work, such as writing haikus or planning out a hero's journey.

Teachers Accommodate Diverse Student Needs

Today's classrooms and curriculums accommodate students with diverse social needs and levels of learning abilities, an issue with which teachers and parents have long struggled. The good news is that these barriers to learning are weakened when stories, lessons, and activities are constructed not only of paper, but also of virtual tools that helps students of all kinds visualize and interact with the material they are reading. A zSpace case study on elementary students in the San Jose, CA area showed that virtual reality stations helped bridge the divide between English and Spanish. When a story about a volcano is paired with the hands-on learning experience of exploring one virtually, a new equality is established that doesn't minimize traditional paper-based learning.

Not Just a Fad

Fundamentally, educational technology is about learning. It is a tool teachers can use to complete a predefined curriculum. In order for the use of technology to enhance learning and not just provide a distraction, it must be connected to a specific purpose, such as to learn about the bones in the human hand or to experience key points on a timeline of historical events.

The augmented learning opportunities of edtech open new doors for all students by adding a fourth "R" -- reality -- to the traditional trio of "reading, writing, and arithmetic." Books are not forgotten but carried into a new era of education, one that shows, tells, and realizes more potential than ever before. So slip on a pair of 3D glasses and let yourself see how mixed reality technology strength-trains the brain for new frontiers in thought and progress.

Repost from zSpace Blog

Using 3D Printing For Stem in Higher Education

Elana Reiser, Professor of Math at St. Joseph’s College and member of the MakerBot Educators program, has a passion for combining math with pop culture. So much so, she actually wrote the book on it: Teaching Mathematics Using Popular Culture: Strategies for Common Core Instruction from Film and Television.

Her unique talent for increasing classroom excitement on classically intimidating math lessons inspired her to explore another tool – 3D printing. It has obvious applications for subjects like design and engineering, biology or physics, but what sort of value can a 3D printer offer to college level math curriculum?

Lots of subjects lend themselves to learning in different modalities, like visual and auditory learning. Math is more difficult. Educators are always innovating new formats to their lesson plans in order to tap into different learning styles, but how do you give a physical or visual component to an equation? Ever innovative, Reiser has developed strategies that do just that with a new instructional book that interweaves 3D printing and math, entitled 3D Printing in the K-12 Mathematics Classroom: A Beginner’s Guide for Teachers.

We sat down with Elana to ask her about how she implemented 3D printing in her math courses.

MakerBot: When did you first see the potential for 3D printing in your classes?

Elana: I run a math interest program for middle and high school math teachers and wanted to teach something on 3D printing but didn’t know much about it. So I signed up for the MakerBot makeathon last summer and learned how to use the technology. The challenge was to work in groups to create curriculum – ours created a lesson plan that had students design a roller coaster by thinking about the curve in terms of functions before finally printing it.

MakerBot: We see a lot of 3D printers used at the university level, but rarely for math. How did you weave it into the coursework, and what do your students think?

Elana: I’ve put 3D printing in both of my math courses, all the students love it. I use the cryptography lesson I designed on the first day to give them something fun and tangible. I also use one on modular arithmetic in my number theory class. Giving students something in their hands to rethink a problem can be especially useful for challenges that tend to be all cognitive and not very physical.

MakerBot: Has it been hard to create or find new 3D printing content?

Elana: Before this semester, there really wasn’t that much content available or easily findable, but once Thingiverse Education went up, it’s a great place to go for lessons.

MakerBot: What do you think is the biggest barrier to wider adoption of 3D printing in education?

Elana: One barrier to introducing more 3D lessons is probably the time it takes to print, but on a university schedule it’s not really an issue because we don’t meet every day. So if I have students design on Thursday, I can print their designs in time for our next session on Tuesday.

MakerBot: Have you seen any results from your introduction of 3D printing?

Elana: It has the biggest impact on student engagement – they’re always alert and talking about it when I bring 3D printed objects into class.

MakerBot: Do students pick up the new technology quickly? What about general design and CAD skills?

Elana: Even though my students are digital natives, Facebook and all, it doesn’t automatically make them good at 3D design. Maybe they catch on quicker, knowing where buttons are and what they might do, but they need a little bit of training. But because they find it so interesting, I can introduce them to Tinkercad and have them design something as homework and they all enjoy the assignment.

For example, I wrote a lesson on the Pythagorean theorem, where students had to design objects in TinkerCad at ratios that proved the theory. Teaching TinkerCad went really well, they picked it up in just over an hour.

Thanks for the tips, Elana!

Elana is part of a growing movement of educators developing and sharing 3D printing content and best practice with one another. Make sure to check out her book 3D Printing in the K-12 Mathematics Classroom: A Beginner’s Guide for Teachers.

For classroom-ready lesson plans, check out Thingiverse Education.
To learn more about how to become a MakerBot Educator visit 

Reprint from Makerbot

Anatomy Class Can Be Tough!

Anatomy can be a tough course! People in the medical profession spend years learning the different parts of the body and how they work. But that has not stopped high school students at Liberty County School System’s Bradwell Institute from taking a challenging anatomy course.

Science and Anatomy Teacher Pamela Donald is taking advantage of new educational technology to supplement the anatomy coursework of her students. She says that even though the students were exposed to physical dissections, many were squeamish and shy actually doing the dissection. Ms. Donald then introduced the students to the human heart through zSpace, which combines elements of VR and AR. By using virtual models, students were exposed to the heart in a way that they found accessible. Learning about the human heart just seemed to click in a way that had not happened before.

Repost from zSpace.

This Makerbot Educator Teaches Life Skills in Her 4th and 5th Grade Science Classes

Among the cacti and tumbleweeds of Scottsdale, Arizona, is an oasis of learning known as the Rancho Solano Preparatory School. At this private pre K-12 school, education is all about preparing students with the life skills needed to succeed in our ever-changing 21st century world. In fact, it’s stated mission is to “cultivate in our students the ingenuity to thrive in a global society and to be architects of their future.”

That’s a mission that Shannon Feaster takes to heart in her 4th and 5th grade science classes. As a member of the MakerBot Educator program and a teacher of 20 years, she’s going beyond the books to meet the rigorous standards at Rancho Solano.

Since August of 2016, she has used a MakerBot Replicator (5th Gen) and MakerBot Replicator Mini to challenge her students to design and 3D print projects. In turn, she’s elevating engagement, encouraging real-world problem solving, and teaching larger life skills —especially those for tomorrow’s jobs.

We chatted with Shannon to learn just how she is 3D printing in the classroom and what she’s achieved with her students.

MakerBot: What MakerBot products are you using and what do you like about them?

Shannon: We use MakerBot Fifth Generation 3D printer, MakerBot Replicator Mini, MakerBot Desktop, MakerBot Mobile app (teacher only), and Thingiverse. All are very user-friendly for both teachers and students.

MakerBot: What do you and your students primarily 3D print in your classes?

Shannon: Projects! My students have used the printers to create everything from robots with second grade science buddies to cars, design prototypes, and organisms for plant or animal classification and adaptation units. Both printers are also used by my STEM club.

MakerBot: How does 3D printing with MakerBot help you target specific learning goals?

Shannon: It goes right along with STEM and Next Gen Science Standards —we find a need, design, test, modify, print, modify again, and use! It’s not only teaching the kids about the design process, but they also have to collaborate, problem-solve, show persistence with a project, and see value in how technology can change lives for the better. We hope to soon work on printing toys and food bowls for a rabbit rescue in our community.

MakerBot: Tell us about the most exciting or interesting lesson that you’ve run with your MakerBot so far.

Shannon: After studying about the 5 kingdoms and ecosystems, my 4th grade students had to design their own organism and write a book about its scientific classification, habitat, and more. They used TinkerCad to create their organism. Some did plants, some did new species of animals, and some even did protists and bacteria. They 3D printed their organisms and had them on display along with their book about that organism.


MakerBot: What does having access to a MakerBot 3D Printer help you achieve in your classroom?

Shannon: Simply put—projects come to life! Students have the opportunity to design, test, modify objects for projects; and the kids use the 3D printer to make models to show what they have learned or to use for presentations.

MakerBot: Do you think having access to tools like a 3D printer at this age helps set your students up for success in the future?

Shannon: I think our 3D printers set my students up for success simply because they can turn their ideas into a reality and they understand how to persevere through a difficult design and learn from their mistakes to make improvements. These are not simply STEM objectives, but also life skills.

MakerBot: Have you saved time or money creating teaching props for projects or on other teaching supplies using a 3D printer? If so, how?

Shannon: Absolutely! It was actually my students who reminded me that I could 3D print containers for all of our STEM materials, and even a screwdriver to keep in the classroom! They have also used the MakerBot to create props for a play they are currently doing in Language class. And other teachers like to ask my STEM club students to print math manipulatives and letters for the younger grades on campus!

MakerBot: How do you plan to continue using 3D printers in the future? Do you have any new projects coming up?

Shannon: My fifth graders will be taking a trip to Biosphere II and after our ecology unit, they will jump into Google Sketchup to design their own Biosphere. They will export their designs from Sketchup to 3D print the model to use in a presentation or project. The 5th graders are also designing a working windmill to print and use! After studying the Human Body, my fourth grade students will use the printer to design cross sections of a heart, cells, eyes, and more.

MakerBot: Is there anything else that you would like us to know about how MakerBot empowers you or your students?

Shannon: One of my fourth grade students has a notebook with drawings of prototypes and he now has the means to design and print his models. Being able to take his designs from paper to a real model has inspired him to further his ideas, and even look into how to present and patent his ideas!

Thanks again to Shannon and Rancho Solano Preparatory School!

More Resources for 3D Printing in the Classroom

MakerBot provides a variety of resources designed for educators of all experience levels with 3D printing. To learn more about how you can 3D print in your classroom, visit For classroom-ready lesson plans, check out Thingiverse Education. To become a MakerBot Educator, visit

Repost from Makerbot

Top 7 Purchasing Considerations for Virtual Reality Education

Virtual Reality Education

Virtual reality for the consumer just keeps getting better, cheaper and more accessible. The games are becoming more realistic and immersive. The kids are very excited about the technology. More companies are bringing products into the education space. 

As companies make their push into the education space, they need to understand that there are additional requirements that come into play when moving into the classroom.

Content is king, but it is not the focus of this article. Content that can easily incorporate into your lesson plans is the number one consideration. If the content is not right, then nothing else matters. Among the companies that are providing great virtual reality content, here are considerations for the education space. 

Virtual Reality Education Software has to be more than a Game

1. Look for solutions that are accompanied with subject and grade appropriate lesson plans

We all get super excited about the engagement and the excitement that VR products will generate. We can not be distracted by the shiny penny and overlook the importance of integrating into the lesson plan and providing learning value. 

If a VR product arrives at a teacher's doorstep without information to help integrate it into the course, it adds to the teacher's work load. And raises the possibility that it will not be effectively used.  

When manufacturers make it for easy teachers to integrate products into lesson plans, they will integrate better and have a longer shelf life.

2. Look for solutions that are accompanied with teacher training

This is the difference between buying products and buying solutions. Training builds champions among the teachers. Training will maximize the use of the product. Training will overcome any objections or hesitancy to use the product purchased. Nothing is worse than seeing products sit idle because the teacher is not comfortable or does not have the time to learn how to use and integrate into the classroom.

Virtual reality needs to be embedded in a meaningful way if it is going to work.

Virtual Reality Education Hardware Considerations

3. Hardware solutions have to be durable

Virtual Reality hardware for schools has to last. It can be in the hands of up to 180 students a day and possibly being used 5 days a week. That adds up to over 32,000 touches each year. 

I've heard stories about the short life span of Google Cardboard. Considering the construction material, it is understandable. If you go the Google route, it is probably best handled as a consumable that is purchased for each student with plenty of spares.  

Looking at head set solutions like Oculus and Samsung which are manufactured with plastics, I would expect them last much longer. Few sets can be purchased for the classroom with sufficient spares. 

Computer platforms like zSpace aren't moved or handled in the same way. The glasses provided are durable and inexpensive if replacement is needed. 

4. Hardware solutions have to be cleanable

Kids have germs. it's a serious consideration in a school system where one nasty virus can take down a school. Equipment that is used among multiple students should be wiped down regularly to prevent the spreading of illness. 

This consideration does not bode well for Google Cardboard. The head set solutions which have plastic surfaces will wipe down well. 

Each brand has to be examined closely around the seal that touches the face. Depending on the materials used, keeping the units clean may or may not be a problem. The computer platforms like zSpace do not pose any issue with the computers or glasses used.

5. Hardware has to be attainable

Since many of the virtual reality platforms are originating out of the consumer world, the primary content delivery system is the smart phone. It has not become common place for districts to purchase smart phones in mass for lab use. 

Some districts ban smart phones entering schools all together. If that's not an obstacle, then depending on the age group, the students might have smart phones that can be used. But, that might create another set of issues. 

Computer platforms, like zSpace, do not have this issue. As most computer based VR platforms are multi-use and can serve both a computer lab and virtual reality education. 

6. Hardware has to be locked down

Some of the programs require access to a wi-fi network. Some require limited access to the internet. A school system has to be able to monitor and control the network and internet activity. 

I think IT's head would explode if they had to lock down smart phones. It's another layer of complexity that might result in some pushback. All of the headsets that use a smart phone have to consider the accompanying vulnerability.  

The virtual reality systems that are based on computer platforms, like zSpace, are in good shape. IT departments are quite comfortable supporting PC's and have a lot of experience locking them down.

Virtual Reality Education Software Physical Challenges

7. Beware of solutions that can cause accidents

The technology, with some headsets, is so immersive, that you can get motion sick. No one wants to see barfing in the classroom. Motion sickness is caused by the brain receiving mixed signals from the senses: the eyes are detecting movement, such as walking, in the virtual environment, but the inner ear, which relays our sense of motion and balance, doesn't match up because you are in one spot. I find that the better the system blocks the outside world, the more susceptible someone might be to this occurring. Systems like the Oculus Rift and Samsung VR completely block the eyes from external motions. Desktop systems like zspace do not suffer those types of issues.

Then imagine 30 students in a classroom with blindfolds on wondering around. That’s essentially what you have when using virtual reality goggles. There is going to be a lot of bumping into furniture and people, unless the VR allows you to explore while standing still. It’s fun at first, then it becomes a class management issue. This is specific to the virtual reality hardware and software packages used.  Desktop virtual reality does not have this issue. 

Benefits of Virtual Reality in Education

Let's not lose track that every purchase made in education has to enhance the learning experience in a meaningful way. Virtual reality can address learning in many ways. Virtual reality solutions can help kids become more well rounded because of the experience provided. It can provide access to experiences that most children wouldn't experience first hand.  

In our world of XBOX and PS4, we are competing against video games to be interesting and engaging for students. Look for real world virtual reality created for education to compete.

How VR & AR Are Changing Anatomy Class

Anatomy class traditionally devotes most classroom time to static presentations, dense textbooks and examination of a 3D model with limited mobility. These traditional teaching methods are occasionally supplemented by dissections.

Now imagine a classroom where learning is interactive on a daily basis, where students can explore deep into the human body and all its connected systems. By using new educational technologies, like augmented and virtual reality, teachers provide an immersive, interactive environment for students to actively engage in the learning process. New educational doors are being opened by the technologies of AR and VR.

Benefits of using AR and VR in an anatomy lab include:

  • Unlimited specimens for dissectionCadavers play an important role in learning human anatomy, but are in limited supply and can be difficult to obtain, store and dispose of properly. With VR and AR, unlimited models of a variety of specimens are available.
  • Living systems can be examined: One limitation of working with cadavers is that students aren't able to witness the functioning of living systems. With AR and VR, all the layers and systems can be explored either individually or as a whole. Students can rotate objects, learn additional information about specific body systems, show how parts interact with each other and more.
  • Mistakes are welcome: In traditional dissection lessons, mistakes made with a scalpel cannot be undone. In digital labs, if a student makes a wrong incision she can go back and start again. Working with virtual models is a great way to practice before working on cadavers. 
  • Better educational resultsA recent study found students experienced a 76 percent increase in learning outcomes when using a laboratory simulation; that number increased to 101 percent when traditional methods were used in combination with the digital technology.

Education technology for anatomy opens up new worlds to students. AR and VR solutions are the future for anatomy classrooms designed for the digital generation.

Repost from zSpace.

Join the Maker Movement with zSpace

Tinker Toys of Today's Generation: Join the Maker Movement with zSpace


Ding Ding. The clock strikes 8:00 am and children are in their seats. The bell tells you it's time for 45 minutes of math class, going over Chapter 12, then off to science class to learn the scientific method.


This is how the average school day is laid out: rigidly structured by schedules and bells, paced by textbooks and chapters. But what if we allowed a creative space for our students to transform from passive learners into active creators?  


The Maker Movement is the shift to learning through firsthand experience. From tinkering with existing objects to coming up with one's own idea, the maker movement encourages students to experiment, take risks, and play with their imagination.

By allowing kids to learn in non-linear and creative ways, we honor different styles of learning and empower students to break free from constraints of habitual thinking. Technologies enabling design, construction, and invention are the tinker toys and building blocks for today's and tomorrow's generations. These tools transform STEAM education using the basic human impulse to create.

By encouraging students to prototype, experiment, and innovate, Makerspaces create a new generation of creators, who will likely be inspired to start their own companies, design their own products, and make their dreams into reality.

Learn how to transform your classroom into a Makerspace with zSpace for Education.

Let us bring a zSpace demonstration to your school.

It's very easy to set up.

1) Send us an email. 

2) Let us know a good time and date to call you.  (provide a direct phone number) 

3)We will call you.

zSpace, The Perfect Cross Curriculum Environment

How many programs do you run across that can serve multiple curriculums?

Purchasing a zSpace lab can get your Math, Science, History and Language Arts staff all singing your praises; one purchase and many happy educators.

But, zSpace is not about only making the educators happy.

  • zSpace meets and supports the Louisiana State Standards
  • Ideas4ed can assist with the incorporation of your zSpace lab into your curriculum program.


o   We can collaborate with your teachers to create or connect zSpace activities that will support standards in all core areas across grade levels.

o   We can correlate current zSpace activities to Louisiana, Next Generation Science and Common Core science standards across grade levels,

o   We can collaborate with your full staff in creating a living document that is cross- curricular.

Simply put, Ideas4ed and zSpace will work very hard with you to seamlessly integrate a zSpace lab into your school.

Let us know when we can talk.

Get Social with zSpace

Though they can provide jaw-dropping and immersive experiences, head mounted display VR and AR products such as Oculus Rift and HTC's Vive have sparked concerns of technology's social impact.

Due to their restrictive headsets, these new technologies do not allow for users to communicate and interact with others. Users are virtually cut off from the world around them and are placed into new, simulated realities. This type of isolation surely will not help instill social skills such as verbal communication or body language cues in kids.

zSpace, however, is a screen based virtual reality system that can provide awe-inspiring experiences, while still allowing students the ability to work together, communicate, and interact.

For more on the social benefits of zSpace, watch CTO Dave Chavez, discuss how zSpace is different from other VR and AR solutions.

Let us bring a zSpace demonstration to your school.

It's very easy to set up.

1) Send us an email. 

2) Let us know a good time and date to call you.  (provide a direct phone number) 

3)We will call you.