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Micro Center contest asks students what they’d create with 3D printer

July 27, 2018 GMT

Micro Center contest asks students what they’d create with 3D printer

MAYFIELD HEIGHTS, Ohio -- Attention creative area students ages 13 and older: national device and consumer electronics retailer Micro Center has a contest that will reward the winner and his or her school with some of the latest in technical gear.

The Mayfield Heights Micro Center store, 1349 S.O.M. Center Road, is joining the chain’s 24 other locations across the country in conducting its 2018 Micro Center Maker Student Contest.

Students, right up through college age, are being asked to answer the question, “What would you make with a 3D printer or control with a @VexRobotics Motorized Robotics Arm Kit?”

This is the contest’s second year. Last year, contestants were asked what they would make with a 3D printer and a Raspberry Pi. A Raspberry Pi is a small, affordable, hand-held computer that can be used to learn programming.

“Each year, we try and find a product that’s new enough and that’s not being purchased en masse by most school districts, but that teachers have access to,” Micro Center Marketing Communications Manager Ed Lukens said of the contest’s structure. “Last year, it was the Raspberry Pi.

“This year, we’re staying with the 3D printer and going with the robotic kit. Most schools around the country don’t have these things.”

Lukens said that this year, like last, he and a team of Micro Center representatives spoke with principals and technology teachers at schools within a 10-mile radius of Micro Center stores coast to coast. By doing so, the Micro Center team learn what products should be included in each year’s contest question.

The selection of each year’s technological product is crucial to the contest, because the student winner receives the product, as does the winner’s school.

As one might expect from young STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) students, the answers to the contest questions can be quite advanced.

In 2017, a student named Elijah from Simon Baruch Middle School (MS104) in New York City was declared the winner by Lukens and his fellow judges.

In answering what he would do with a 3D printer and Raspberry Pi, Elijah, one of nearly 1,000 contestants, answered, “I’d make an ultraviolet mineral detector, high-altitude balloon Raspberry Pi gondola, plus school-brand fidget spinners to fund what I’m making.”

“Last year, a sixth-grader gave the best answer,” Lukens said of Elijah, “and the runner-up was a graduate student at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). So, you see we get answers from students of all ages, but the MIT student finished as the runner-up to the sixth-grader.”

The robotic arm kit, valued at $59.99 -- which this year’s winning student will receive -- can help serve a young inventor as a third arm, or perhaps serve as an arm for a student who has a disability.

In addition, the winning student and his school will both receive a PowerSpec Ultra 2.0 Dual Extruder 3D Printer, which has a value of $899.99. And, the winner’s school will receive a Vex Robotics First Vex IQ Robotics Construction Kit, which is valued at $299.99.

The winner’s school will first be notified. Lukens said that, in 2017, Elijah’s school held an assembly in his honor.

The deadline to enter an answer is Sept. 16. The winner will be announced about 10 days later.

Rules and the contest form can be found at microcenter.com. After completing a contest form, entrants can answer the question, “What would you make with a 3D Printer or control with a @VexRobotics Motorized Robotics Arm Kit?” on Twitter or the Micro Center Facebook page.