School 3D Printer Maker Challenge ignites STEM involvement

Find out how to host your own Student 3D Printer Competition.

Integrated STEM education through School 3D Printer Maker Challenges

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 a School 3D Printer Maker 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 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 involvement in the ocMaker Challenge.” — Eva Wolf, Airwolf 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 the ocMaker Challenge where kids get to use Airwolf 3D printers to invent!

What is a School 3D Printer Maker Challenge?

A School 3D Printer Maker Challenge is an integrated STEM project that incorporates elements of art and design. The students must design and manufacture a product. For the ocMaker Challenge, the event was organized and promoted by the Orange County Department of Education and CTEoc (Career Technical Education of Orange County) and supported by Vital Link. Airwolf 3D proudly serves as the event’s main sponsor and has the honor of providing the prize money for the ocMaker Challenges.

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 ocMaker Challenge 2016 winners from Anaheim High School.

There are not too many rules and constraints. The product must be created specifically for the 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.

The 15 Printer Promo: Host your own 3D Printer Challenge

Purchase 15 printers for your schools, district, or educational coalition and Airwolf 3D will provide:

  • An intensive two-day 3D Printing Workshop with exclusive training materials
  • 15 Copies of our 3D Printing STEM Curriculum
  • $1,000 sponsorship for cash awards to winning students of maker challenge
  • Free access to our online repository of 3D models. The platform is also used for students to upload designs for judging purposes
  • Instruction and support for hosting a maker challenge in your community
  • Comprehensive Maker Challenge Manual that includes sample competition rules and regulations, and judging rubrics.
  • Inspiring videos and case studies to get your community and sponsors vested in supporting this event
  • Airwolf staff to travel to one school and perform an inspiring presentation to kick-off your maker challenge
  • Free access to online training for students that includes instructional videos, graded quizzes for students, and real-time emailed grade results for teachers.

For more information, please contact Airwolf 3D at (949) 478-2933 or email us at

3D Printers for schools

Find out how to host your own 3D Printer Maker Challenge and receive a FREE 3D Printing Curriculum!

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