chapter  1
11 Pages

Introduction to This Volume

WithKylie Peppler, Erica Rosenfeld Halverson, Yasmin B. Kafai

In a large recreational hall transformed into a full-fledged makerspace, laughter, chatter, and occasional screeches sounded from a table surrounded by youths and cluttered with laptops, LEGO bricks, and clay models. During a 2-week summer maker camp, the 16 youths (5 girls, 11 boys), 9- to 13-years old, were creating 3D models of a variety of items, from remixed superhero logos to miniature sports equipment. First, they used physical prototyping materials, including playdough, wax, LEGOs, or clay, to try out modeling in three dimensions. Then they created digital models of their ideas, and lastly they got to print their work using 3D printers. Lisa, curious mahogany eyes looking through peek-a-boo bangs, was among the campers. With concentration, she switched between a street-view photograph of her house and her 3D model of the same, seemingly trying to get just enough details into her model. Then another camper called on her for support. Despite not having used 3D modeling software or printer before, Lisa emerged as the go-to person during camp, jumping back and forth between crafting her personal project and helping out fellow campers. When others printed their projects, she lingered with them around the row of 3D printers, watching the models emerge. In this 21st-century version of shop class, 3D printers are part of the new set of tools youths are using to imagine, design, and make.