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"Literacy is a key lever of change and a practical tool of empowerment on each of the three main pillars of sustainable development: economic development, social development and environmental protection." 

-- Former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan

Forty-eight years ago, the United Nations designated September 8 as the International Day of Literacy. According to The New York Times, 44% of the global population was determined functionally illiterate in 1966, the pilot year of this worldwide advocacy. Since then, the rate of traditional illiteracy has dropped to 16%, but parallel developments have simultaneously broadened our understanding of literacy itself. Today, we define literacy not only as it pertains to reading and writing but as a comprehensive educational competency in the issues and skills that pertain to our times. The 21st century calls for a new “digital literacy” and 3D printing is the cornerstone of this new digital language.

Through our work with forward-thinking educational programs worldwide, such as City X Project, FIRST Robotics and Level Up Villages, 3DS has already begun to build confidence and competencies in children in digital skills. We have seen firsthand through our initiatives and sponsorships how receptive young minds can be when introduced to emerging technologies early. We have seen how 3D printing can inspire children as young as 5 to ideate, iterate and collaborate to solve challenges, and we are working with educators, schools and governments to ensure that these technologies become no more novel to classrooms than computers. From 3D design programs that unlock our children’s imaginations, to 3D printers that bring those ideas into the physical realm, our vision is to equip future generations with the skills and language necessary for the manufacturing jobs of tomorrow—and for our shared digital future.

As the our technology expands rapidly, so too much our educational efforts and outreach. In this light, 3DS is proud to announce some exciting updates to our MAKE.DIGITAL education platform, connecting schools and community centers with the tools and resources they need to spread digital literacy in the Digital Age. First, we’ve created new Class and Lab Kits with special educator discounts for classrooms and schools of all sizes and varying skill levels. Second, we’ve revamped our curriculum zone and made it easier for teachers to find the right curriculum and training programs for their needs. Finally, we’ve launched a new learning tool called “3DU” which gives educators and administrators access to step-by-step lessons and activities to make 3D printing come to life in a classroom or after school program.

We are also hosting an education booth at the International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago throughout this week (Sept. 8-13, Booth C-840). We will be showcasing what a 3D curriculum looks like—from high school advanced manufacturing labs to K-8 maker labs—and demonstrating how these innovative learning platforms can enhance traditional STEAM education programs. If you’re in the Chicago area, we encourage you to stop by and see how we transform our commitment into action.

We’ll be adding new resources regularly to MAKE.DIGITAL and would love to hear feedback from educators and students at MakingGood@3dsystems.com. You can also sign up for our edcuation newsletter to be first to hear new offers and specials as well as stories and case studies from our partners.