Hey @RobertMitchell this is much bigger than Inventables selling products.
You can use our Easel software for free with our machines or any machines that can accept G-code. In many schools the teachers and students want to buy our machines but can't afford it or can't get permission from the administration. We get calls almost every day. Schools want us to donate them or give them discounts. Instead of donating one to every school that calls Inventables, we took a different approach.
We took applications for about 6 months to give as many schools the opportunity as possible. We got about 600 applications and gave away 50 machines, one in each state. While that was pretty expensive for us, it doesn't even scratch the surface. When I was in high school I was lucky to have access to both digital manufacturing equipment and traditional machine tools. I was lucky to have lived in the right school district. If you go to school in a district that doesn't have tools like this available why should you be prevented from learning about digital manufacturing?
As a country I think we need to celebrate science and engineering as much as we celebrate sports, actors, and other entertainment celebrities. Our country was built on Yankee ingenuity but it's been systematically stamped out of our school system.
In my opinion schools as we know them now in the US are obsolete. Some people are saying they are broken. There is a professor named Sugata Mitra Who gave a TED talk that really inspired me. He said "It’s fashionable to say the education system is broken. It’s not broken at all. The Victorian system, which is the model of education used practically everywhere in the world, does exactly what it was designed to do. Which is to have an elite class who will run the show, assisted by an army of clerks for whom a curriculum was designed and who were mass-produced to do their jobs.
So, it’s not broken, but what it is producing are people who are not needed. You know, an average boy from an average school in a poorer area would go out for a job interview, and the employer says, ‘What can you do well?’ And he’ll say, ‘I have good handwriting, my grammar’s excellent, I can spell properly and I can do arithmetic in my mind.’"
Today there aren't too many jobs of the future that are going to look like jobs from the past. We know that people will work from wherever they want, whenever they want, in whatever way they want. Many of Inventables customers are quitting their jobs or working on their own business with an X-Carve to make products. How is present-day schooling going to prepare them for that world?
Aside from Inventables there is ETSY, EBAY, Shopify, Kickstarter, and Fulfillment by Amazon. The world is changing but our education system is not. I can't single handedly change the education system. It's a massive problem. I've tried talking to administrators and politicians and it's futile. I've talked to teachers and they feel helpless.
I don't think it is realistic for Inventables to remake the entire education system in the US so this program was an attempt to go around the rules. To go around the administration. To go around the traditional funding channels. An attempt to let teachers who are motivated to bring this kind of technology into the classroom to give exposure to some young minds. When I was a kid my Dad got us an Apple IIe. Then in kindergarten or first grade we got one in school. The experience banging around on that thing influenced my entire life. It got me interested in computers and ultimately inspired me to pursue a degree in engineering.
We're just trying to inspire other kids growing up today to explore things besides snapchat and video games.
If they don't buy our machines or use our free software but get exposed and inspired it's still a win in my book.