Stories about a “3D printer seeding plan” in China started popping up last year in June 2014. The Chinese (or Beijing?) government was to give 100,000 3D printers to primary and secondary schools, according to Lin Zongtang the last minister of the former Ministry of Aerospace Industry. These printers were to be installed at these schools within the next two years.
In December the news surfaced again; this time there was even talk about adjusting the curriculum to include 3D printing and to have 3D printing experience camps for teenagers.
We have said it before, China is really going all-in with 3D printing and this plan would be the final proof of that.
The news is now also finally picked up in more English oriented media after Simon Shen, CEO of the Taiwanese firm Kinpo Group (parent of XYZ Printing), said that China was going to install 400,000 3D printers in primary schools next year.
While the 400,000 might be too high, or not only focused on primary schools, such ‘details’ are all irrelevant. What is relevant is that China is putting it’s money where it’s mouth is. They invest in education and innovation. And yes, there is lots to be said about the Chinese education system. But at least a huge portion of Chinese kids will have worked with 3D printers, the software and hardware that is needed to operate them, experience different printing materials, and maybe most important, experience the design freedom that comes with 3D printers. And all of this at and age where brain plasticity is likely at its peak.
Western education authorities should listen to the 3D printed Yoda: “Much to learn there is!”
Source (Chinese): Beijing No.2 Middle School Yizhuang School
Featured image: 3D print of Yoda (cropped), CreativeTools/Flickr