SparkLab is putting shop class on wheels... with a 3D printer

SparkLab is taking a big red truck on tour as a way to offer shop class on wheels to Bay Area schools. But this shop class comes with a 3D printer, and a lot more.
Written by Mari Silbey, Contributor

What could you do with a set of hand tools, a laser cutter, and a 3D printer? SparkLab, a new project designed by a handful of Stanford grad students, aims to find out. The SparkLab crew plans to visit Bay Area schools in the spring with a truck full of tools and a mission to get kids to think by doing. The project isn't much more than a Kickstarter page right now, but through that funding platform, SparkLab has already raised more than $6,000 on route to a goal of $25,000.

With so many virtual tools available today, it's a different thing entirely to outfit students with tools for making things by hand, particularly in an age of tight education budgets. Yet by combining high-tech resources like a 3D printer with standard shop-class materials, SparkLab is hoping to fire up kids' imagination. The team says it will travel from school to school in a 16-foot truck and work with teachers and students to "create engaging, educational activities."

The project is getting a lot of encouragement from industry leaders too. The founding editor of Make magazine and the CEO of Autodesk like the idea, and founder of IDEO David Kelley notes, "This is the kind of learning that really sticks with kids."

If the project sticks, SparkLab could help get another generation of students interested in engineering and innovation. Further materials planned for the truck include a vinyl cutter, an auxiliary generator, and much more. For a pledge of only $50, the SparkLab team will send you a laser-cut truck postcard, and a personalized gift created by a student on the SparkLab tour.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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