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In the Creative Challenge and 3-D Printing Competition, nearly 100 children from about a dozen teams and seven schools learned how to use the technology and then create their own designs over a period of a couple of months.
The contest required teams to use 3-D printers to build play sets that could fit into a 6-by-6-by-6-inch box. A panel of judges from the design and technology industry then examined the creations and made awards in several categories.
The purpose of the program was to expose youngsters to the emerging technology, but judges were surprised by the entries the kids produced.
“I think right now 3-D modeling is inaccessible,” said Jenna Boldebuck, a designer for the alliance and a judge in the competition. “But the younger generation isn’t afraid to use it. They are only 10 years old and they are making such amazing things.”
The host school, P.S. 175, shined in the competition.
The school’s A-team, a mix of fifth-graders, created a play set based on “The Wizard of Oz,” because the students watched the Broadway musical “Wicked” and read the original story for class. The group won the People’s Choice award and the Best Design award.
Then the school’s B-team, which was comprised of fourth graders, won Best Presentation for building a play set with the theme of the first Thanksgiving between Native Americans and the Pilgrims, which they learned about in their social studies curriculum.
The group from P.S. 11 won Best Collaboration, and third graders from P.S. 139 won the Best Innovation award for customizable car models and an accompanying track set.
“They are being exposed. The future is theirs, now they have the ability to learn more,” said Patricia Cooper, principal of P.S. 175, about the contest. “It’s not STEM education, it’s STEAM. We combined science, technology, engineering, art and math.”