The Long March: 3D Printing Goes to Shangrao Primary School
October 31, 2017
You may have read about last year’s Silk Road initiative, where our Chinese office took a “Dream Bus” around the west of China to educate and inspire young children in remote areas. A fully equipped classroom, the Dream Bus also came with several 3D printers and tablets, which the children could use to design their own 3D prints! This year, the saga continues as the Long March – the Dream Bus will start in Jinzhai and make its way to Dingxi across the south of China.
We went along to volunteer in Shangrao, a picturesque city in the Jiangxi province and the seventh stop along the Dream Bus’s journey. We left in the evening on the high-speed train from Shanghai and were impressed at how beautiful the surroundings were – it was quite a change from the hustle and bustle of Shanghai!
Early in the morning on the next day, we arrived at Shangrao City Experimental Primary School where the children were already gathered in the playground for their morning exercise. Even though it was already almost 30° outside, their enthusiasm was infectious and we were reminded of the exercises we also performed each morning in primary school not so long ago. While the children finished their routines, we got to work preparing the printers and the classroom for them.
It isn’t always easy to explain the concept of 3D Printing so we couldn’t help feeling a little nervous, but this class was a little older and they understood what 3D Printing was easily. They were also incredibly curious about what the technology could do and why it should be developed, asking us loads of questions after we finished explaining the theory.
Then it was time for the practical part of the course: the children were allowed to start creating their own designs on the tablets. The theme was “dreams” and we saw some very creative ideas! Some of the kids designed their ideal home, some designed things from the future such as a robot, and all of them were so enthusiastic we felt sorry we couldn’t make the class longer. Finally, we printed out the designs and gave them to the kids as a souvenir of everything they had learnt. Although they only spent a short time learning about 3D Printing, we hope it will plant a seed of interest in their heads, and that they will someday grow up to be future innovators.