National Hispanic Heritage Month is a recognition of Hispanic and Latino American contributions to the United States as well as a celebration of Hispanic/Latino culture and heritage. The celebration runs from September 15 through October 15th. In order to recognize National Hispanic Heritage Month, I recently set out to make something to display in my school. As a 3D printing enthusiast, I started with a search on Thingiverse for a model to 3D print. (Thingiverse is one of the world’s largest repositories of 3D printed models with over 1 million published designs.)
It is clear from the results that there is very little content on Thingiverse related to Hispanic/Latino culture and heritage. I posted indirectly about this on Twitter and heard from some Thingiverse supporters about the diversity of models that are available. My purpose isn’t to point out any particular weakness of a user populated repository but to highlight what an excellent opportunity this is for student designers. The lack of content means that any student contribution will have a significant impact for a global audience.
I spent time this afternoon brainstorming with an ELL (English Language Learner) teacher about how we can involve her students in creating designs for digital fabrication that celebrate Hispanic/Latino culture. (Our ELL student population is over 90% Hispanic.) We may start with having students create sharpie drawings that can be used to create vinyl sticker art. We can also 3D print and laser cut student designs. Having students publish their designs will encourage them to work on their language skills while building their sense of self-identity. We also talked about having an after-school maker activity where the students could work on prototyping their designs. We also discussed creating a Hispanic Heritage Month Maker Challenge where we could involve other schools in out district in creating projects that can be digitally fabricated and shared. Our students could help organize and judge the challenge.
Spanish classes in the school could also research, design, make and share models as part of a classroom project.
To start off these efforts, I’ve put a few pieces in place on Thingiverse. I’ve created a National Hispanic Heritage Month group at http://www.thingiverse.com/groups/hispanic-heritage . I encourage as many educators and designers as possible to join and post a design or contribute to the discussion. I’ve also started a National Hispanic Heritage Month collection http://www.thingiverse.com/DesignMakeTeach/collections/national-hispanic-heritage-month and need suggestions for new models to add.