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Building Minds with 3D Printing

Building 3D printed schools in partnership with developing communities.

Photo of Maggie Grout
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I am a.....

  • Student
  • Organization

Tell us about your idea

I am proposing a pilot project to build the first 3D printed school in partnership with local nonprofit in Madagascar. The pandemic has definitely altered life for people around the world and disrupted children's access to education. While developed countries have the luxury and ability to switch online, many rural and developing communities do not have the same opportunity to continue their education. Likely, when quarantine measures are lifted and social distancing continues to be enforced, developing communities who already face overcrowding in their classrooms will still have physical infrastructure as a barrier to education.

3D printing allows for a decrease in construction time and waste. If we 3D print schools, we can build 20 schools in the time it takes to build one traditional school (our prospective 3D modeled design is estimated to take 2-3 days to build). Additional space will be created for students to attend school. This would tackle a current and future problem that prevents access to education.

Containing a sustainability element, 3D printing supports SDG 4 & 9 if we use it for humanitarian-driven aims. 

What part(s) of the pre-COVID school system do you wish to leave in the past? Why?

Coming from a USA education system as a university student graduating next year, I wish to leave grade-based and distribution curve learning in the past. Many schools have switched to pass/fail in the light of this pandemic and I believe this would be a good idea to implement in the future. We need to refocus education on learning and application rather than memorization to achieve a grade, only to forget the information after the exam. I do not think grades are a strong indication of capability or intellect, they just show how well you perform on test-taking. I would like to see universities teach in a way that the learning material can be applied to the real world. Memorizing obscure facts for an exam will not help us prevent the next pandemic.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to share this idea.

I have been working on this idea since I was a sophomore in high school and I started a nonprofit, Thinking Huts, through which I hope to see my idea become a reality in building 3D printed schools in developing communities with the end goal of closing the global opportunity gap. I was inspired to share this idea because I believe that the pandemic is setting the stage for the next wave of radical innovation and we have the chance to use it to create systemic change that focuses on social impact. 

I was adopted from China and this largely shapes my perspective, being the driving force for why I am pursuing this idea. I know that my life could have turned out a lot differently had it not been for my parents and the brighter future they gave to me through adoption. I want to make a difference for children who do not have the same opportunities and I strongly believe that lack of education is at the root of many problems the world faces today. 

What region are you located in?

  • North America

Where are you located?

Usually Boulder, CO (am currently at home with my parents in Loveland, CO)!

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