The day Makers Empire released the first prototype of their 3D printing app into the small hands of their end users, is still crystal clear in co-founder Roland Peddie’s mind.
It was at a primary school in Adelaide, South Australia a few hours before they closed for holidays.
“We had a two hour lesson in the afternoon, on the last day of term,” says Peddie, laughing.
“But at the end of it, the kids weren’t really wanting to leave and the teachers were like, ‘wow, this is unheard of,’ and we knew we were onto something.”
R2-D2 – Star Wars
In less than two years, the South Australian based company specialising in 3D printing modules for schools and colleges, have taken their product from idea to fruition and are exporting their 3D Design Learning Program to educational institutes around the globe.
The app allows students as young as five to draw outlines, drag shapes and build models of their 3D designs on an iPad, before printing their creations in class.
“Tools like this will revolutionise the way schools teach, and how the next generation learns.” Tonika Cheek Clayton NewSchools Venture Fund managing partner
Paired with the software are lesson plans and training tools to ensure teachers can achieve real learning outcomes.
Today Makers Empire have offices in Adelaide and Boston, are looking to roll out their program in US schools.
Last month, the company announced they had received USD$75,000 from the NewSchools Venture Fund – a non-profit philanthropic firm in Oakland, California – to participate in their edtech accelerator program, NewSchools Ignite.
Makers Empire CEO Jon Soong said their acceptance into the NewSchools Ignite program “was fantastic recognition for what our product can do.”
“New tools like this will revolutionise the way schools teach, and how the next generation learns,” said NewSchools Venture Fund managing partner Tonika Cheek Clayton.
“The innovative approach of Makers Empire to inspire students to engage with 3D modelling and printing is an exceptional example of the type of project we want all students to experience.”
Makers Empire are one of 15 companies selected to participate in the program, supporting entrepreneurs to tackle the most pressing gaps in America’s K-12 education technology.
NewSchools will partner with education development agency WestEd to provide participants with research-based product design feedback and recommendations targeting usability and feasibility in the classroom.