Student 3D Printing Challenge
As a proud sponsor of the ocMaker Challenge, a local 3D-printing maker challenge for schools in Orange County, CA, we here at Airwolf 3D understand the incredible educational advantage that maker challenges provide for students. That’s why we want every school in the country to have the same opportunity and have kids across America participate in their own 3D printing competitions.

If you live outside the Orange County, CA area, you now can participate in the Great 3D-Printing Challenge, where Airwolf 3D will provide everything you need to host your own local 3D-printing maker challenge.

Why host a 3D-printing challenge?

Integrated Science, Technology, Education, and Math (“STEM”) education is becoming increasingly important in today’s technology-driven world. Teachers are tasked with trying to entice kids towards STEM and kids are told often how important mathematics and the sciences are. We believe, however, that a more hands-on approach to learning technology — such as the Great 3D-Printing Challenge — not only helps kids gain a deeper understanding of the subjects, but also a greater appreciation of how important technology is in their daily lives.

The relevance of tech and its accessibility are key for kids. Growing up, parents and teachers told us that math was important, but often did not explain why it is important. It took a lot more to make us see how math, making things, and playing with science actually can be fun! At Airwolf 3D, we play with technology every day. We learn every day. We invent every day. This playful maker culture of creativity, exploration, and invention is what we’d really like to teach and spread around the world.

“We believe that 3D printing will make the usefulness and fun of STEM ‘click’ in the minds of kids, which is why we’re so excited about our deep involvement in school 3D-printing challenges.” — Eva Wolf, Airwolf 3D CEO & Co-Founder

This is just the kind of fun challenge for teachers and kids that really can inspire. By turning ideas into designs and then transforming those designs into physical objects, kids can learn how to invent. By developing a product, kids learn how manufacturing and design cycles work and may be inspired to invent independently. This is why we’re a proud supporter of maker challenges where kids get to use Airwolf 3D printers to invent!

What is the Great 3D-Printing Challenge?

A cross between a classic science fair and a modern maker faire, the Great 3D-Printing Challenge is an integrated STEM project that incorporates elements of art and design. Student participants must design and manufacture a product that offers a solution for a social problem or need.

The students’ designs are then judged and winners are selected based on the projects’ ingenuity and practicality. Winners also receive a certificate of achievement and sponsored prize money.

The challenge is to:

“Design and build, or significantly repurpose, a physical product that will solve a problem, a need, or a want.”

A Four-level 3D Printing Competition

A picture of an exhibition board by La Quinta High School students participating in a School 3D Printer Maker Challenge.

La Quinta High School’s exhibit demonstrating their innovative STEM challenge solution.

There are four different levels of entries. Level 1 is a creative approach to create a static or non-functional prototype, such as a 3D print of their idea. At Level 2, the part has to do something. It must be dynamic and have some functionality. For example, it might turn on or have hinged parts that move. Level 3 starts to kick it up a notch: The part needs to include some form of “intelligent” technology. That means that the prototype responds automatically and selectively to a particular condition or situation. Level 4 requires all of the elements of level 3, plus the prototype displayed at the final exhibit must also include some form of tooling or fabrication process. Examples of fabrication processes include bending metal or cutting wood.

The deliverables

Participants’ exhibitions consist of a presentation, video, and prototype. First, they have to create some form of physical prototype or model. Then they also must prepare a presentation board. Finally, students also have to produce a promotional or demo video.

Rules and constraints

A model of the elevating wheelchair, an image of the Student 3D Printer Maker Challenge prototype by Anaheim High School students.

Elevating Wheelchair made by a group of maker challenge winners from Anaheim High School.

There are not too many rules and constraints. The product must be created specifically for the Great American Maker Challenge. Another rule is that the students need to be able to clearly identify the STEM concepts used in the process. As students move through the design process, they also learn how to articulate to the judges the STEM concepts used. This exercise facilitates deeper learning and develops the ability to recognize STEM concepts in future problem-solving scenarios, empowering students to go further in the future!

More 3D Printer Maker Challenges

Airwolf 3D is no stranger to educational experiences and hackathons. In addition to serving as the main sponsor of all three annual ocMaker Challenges, Airwolf 3D recently completed a similar event at Warner Bros. in which participants were working adults, not young students. Furthermore, they only had 32 hours to complete their project. Read more about the Warner Bros. Hackathon.

Join the Great 3D-Printing Challenge!

Purchase 15 printers for your schools, district, or educational coalition and Airwolf 3D will provide everything you need to host a local maker challenge, including intensive 3D-printer training for teachers, prize money, and Airwolf 3D staff support at your event!

For a free consultation on bringing the Great 3D-Printing Challenge to your area, please contact Airwolf 3D at (949) 478-2933 or email us at

Learn more about 3D Printer Competitions:

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Are you a business or other professional organization interested in hosting your own maker challenge? The Great American Maker Challenge can be custom-tailored to fit your organization’s needs and is a fun and innovative way to integrate 3D-printing into your workplace. See how we created a 3D-printing hackathon for Warner Bros.

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