Discovery Charter School Goes 3D

Ever since I met Riley Lewis of Discovery Charter School at SolidWorks World 2011 this year I have been following the kid’s activities and asking him to share his experiences with me on this blog. I knew that the boy was a live wire the day I met him. Over time I have come to know a little more about his father David Lewis who very supportive of both his boys. The man is a maker himself and his current project is Martin 000 Steel String guitar.

I have tremendous respect for kids who do things that put adults to shame. For example, my own son Reuben swam two kilometers across a river at the age of 6 (see “OT: Reuben Conquers The Mandovi“). His father hasn’t even dared to jump into the river with a lifebuoy at the age of 35. We say that history based parametric modeling is cumbersome to use and look at direct modeling to make our lives easier. Riley is a 7th grader using SolidWorks to design things.

I felt the need to help Riley do more than just blog about what he was up to. Now that I am part of a much larger organization capable of sponsoring things I asked him what he could do with a 3D printer if I had 3D Systems give him one. This was his answer: “COOL! I have been doing work with plastic, and found that it’s really hard to cut. This would be so cool!

So I arranged for 3D Systems to donate a RapMan 3.1 kit to the Design Minilab that he has set up at his school. Riley met with 3D Systems executives at the Maker Faire and became a proud owner of a RapMan 3D printer kit.

Here is Cathy Lewis, VP of Global Marketing, showing Riley what can be done with 3D printing. Notice the look on the boy’s face.

Riley and his friends also met Abe Reichental, President and CEO of 3D Systems, who spent some time with the boys and assured them of a good supply of raw material for their lab.

David sent me these pictures today and wrote:

“We will be bringing the other students who are the Tech Squad at Discovery Charter School (first level IT support) together over the Memorial Day weekend to put the printer together. Keep an eye out for our build blog and our first couple of ‘printings’ here over the next few weeks. Our goal is to get the complete lab up and running with the 3D printer before the end of school in June. As a parent I remain completely overwhelmed and more than a little amused by the attention the lab (and the kid) are getting and once again, a huge thanks to the herd for the support.”

Sure companies like 3D Systems and SolidWorks get some mileage out of sponsoring and donating stuff to schools. In fact, that’s one of the main reasons for doing it in the first place. But remember that this also our social responsibility as companies and personal responsibility as parents. We are nurturing our future here. These kids are going to be the ones who will invent and build the stuff that we will use later on in life. They will be the reason we get to live longer and better. The people who will create the technologies that will fix this planet that we are ruining are probably learning math and science in elementary school today. As parents our responsibility does not end in paying their school fees and dropping and picking them up. As companies our responsibility is not only to our stock holders and investors. Everything cannot be about money all the time.

If you know kids who are doing interesting things drop me a line at deelip (at) deelip (dot) com. I would like to highlight them on this blog and try and connect them to people who can help them go further.