3M and Google’s example can improve education
3M instituted 15% time in the 1950’s which allowed employees to spend 15% of their time working on pet projects which led to the creation of one of its most iconic products: Post-Its. Google gives employees 20% to work on projects not in their job description and has been rewarded with products like Gmail, Adsense and Google News. What both of these companies have figured out is that allowing talented people the time and resources to play and create makes their companies and employees better.
While such a sweeping change through education is unlikely, there are some educational institutions that could benefit from these kinds of changes. After school programs and private schools who are less tied down to state-wide curriculum could dramatically change the way they approach project based learning. Educators could ask students to work together to solve a problem; not a math problem or a multiple choice history question but any problem they want. Then, students control their learning experience (with subtle direction from their teachers, of course). Through brainstorming together, devising various fixes and testing their solution, students would stay engaged and would learn skills valued by employers. Who knows, maybe they even design a customizable splint to provide medical care in developing countries like high school student Ian McHale.
Mission St. is built on the premise that we can set creativity free by providing everyone affordable access to 3D printers with a simple experience they enjoy. Whether it is designing a toy, mocking up a historical battle, or helping students stay engaged in the classroom and interested in STEM, 3D printing can help. As Ian, 3M and Google show, giving talented people access to resources is never a waste of time.