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A 3D printer in every U.S. school?

Posting in Technology

MarkerBot, the New York-based company specializing in desktop 3D printers, has an ambitious new goal of putting one of its 3D printer in every school in the United States.

The crowdfunding initiative, known as MakerBot Academy, is aiming to reach its goal through the DonorsChoose.org platform, providing teachers with a MakerBot Replicator 2, three spools of filament, and a one-year protection plan.

Here's how it works: Full-time public school teachers create a profile on the site, say how a 3D printer would benefit their classroom, and then rally to raise the funds -- about $2,500. (See which schools are already looking to fund a 3D printer.)

This school year alone, the push could get 5,000 3D printers into classrooms.

The larger goal of the initiative is "responding to the call" by President Barack Obama, in his State of the Union speech earlier this year, to increase the number of manufacturing jobs in the U.S., with 3D printing playing a role in revolutionizing "the way we make almost everything."

It's a laudable goal. Giving students early exposure to 3D printing could very well help the industry innovate and make it the manufacturing wonder that the president and others believe it can be.

But the United States has a bigger challenge on the technology front. Only 39 percent of public schools have access to wireless Internet throughout the entire school. Of course, that's not MakerBot's problem to fix. And President Obama has a plan to connect 99 percent of students to high-speed broadband or wireless Internet in the next five years. It's just too bad that nobody had MakerBot-like foresight to make this an educational priority in the Internet's early days.

Read more: Fast Company, MakerBot

Photo: Flickr/Amy Buser

— By on November 13, 2013, 9:25 AM PST

Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure