VIDEO: A Week of Discovery in YouthQuest’s 3D ThinkLink Lab

Students in YouthQuest's first 3D ThinkLink Lab immersion training week

The five students in our first 3D ThinkLink Lab made up an unlikely team of trailblazers.

Not long ago, all of them said, they were “going down the wrong path” – getting into trouble, giving up on school and feeling like nobody cared about them. Each one made the life-changing decision to enroll in the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program, where they learned about 3D design and printing in classes provided by the YouthQuest Foundation.

Thirty at-risk teens from South Carolina, Maryland and the District of Columbia completed the introductory course in June. From those classes, instructors chose these five young men to attend the first weeklong training session at YouthQuest headquarters in Chantilly, Va., Aug. 4-8.

For South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy graduate Joey Clark, it was an “adventurous” week.

“We all come from different places, with different problems,” he said. “You didn’t know what was going to happen. It was a mystery.

“We started printing some stuff out, started having fun and then we all became pretty much brothers.”

The students’ main project for the week was to build a solar-powered walking robot and use 3D printing to customize it. In the process, they learned about creativity, problem solving and teamwork, said YouthQuest Director of Instruction Tom Meeks, who was delighted by how quickly the students pulled together.

Daikwon Jones and Brice Lamb help each other assemble their robots

Daikwon Jones and Brice Lamb help each other assemble their robots

Within hours, the 3D ThinkLink Lab was buzzing with activity as the students helped each other assemble their robot skeletons and troubleshoot problems.

“You really have to think when it comes to 3D printing because your first thing isn’t always going to work,” observed Joey.

He and fellow SCYCA grad Brice Lamb had to think outside the box when they discovered their solar panels wouldn’t produce enough power to make their robots walk. Joey came up with the idea of using a AA battery to run the motor. He worked with Tom to design and print a battery holder that attached to his robot’s back.

That led Brice to experiment with a smaller button-type battery from one of the electronic calipers the students used to take precise measurements.

“This is the kind of problem-solving skill we’re trying to instill in these young people,” said Tom. “We want them to know that when you reach a hurdle, you don’t just stop. You take a look at it, think about it and then come up with a solution to your problem.”

“Doing 3D taught me it’s OK to make mistakes because you can always go back and redo it,” added Jarrod Burley from Maryland’s Freestate ChalleNGe Academy.

“This has helped me so much,” said Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy graduate Daikwon Jones. “It gives you a chance to be yourself. It’s like an artist with a painting.”

The students showed off their creations during the annual VIP reception for YouthQuest’s leading supporters, held at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in McLean, Va., on Aug. 7. Getting to meet some of the at-risk youth they’re helping made a powerful impression on our donors.

“They are highly educated, successful, accomplished in their professions,” noted Tom, “yet they didn’t know as much about 3D printing as our students did.”

Rashad Byrd with (L-R) Carrie and Pete Schourek, and Jones Lang LaSalle Managing Director Harry Klaff at VIP Reception August 7, 2014

Rashad Byrd with (L-R) Carrie and Pete Schourek, and Jones Lang LaSalle Managing Director Harry Klaff at YouthQuest’s VIP Reception

“CEOs, captains of industry, professional athletes, authors… were actually held spellbound,” Capital Guardian Information Systems Manager and 3D ThinkLink instructor Keith Hammond recalled with a smile.

“It made me feel special,” said Brice.

The reception guests were fascinated by 3D printing, added Jarrod, but many they said they didn’t think they’d be able to do it. “When I told them, ‘You can do anything you put your mind to,’ it amazed them,” he said.

Jarrod’s Freestate classmate Rashad Byrd, a sports fan who dreams of playing pro baseball, was amazed that he was able to spend time with two famous athletes in two days. He talked with retired MLB pitcher Pete Schourek about 3D printing – and baseball – at the VIP reception, then got a pep talk on the final day of class from sportscaster Rick ‘Doc’ Walker, who was a member of the Super Bowl XVII Champion Washington Redskins. Both of them played in our charity golf tournament, the Challenge at Trump National, on Aug. 11.

“This is an opportunity of a lifetime. Stay focused on your goals and don’t get distracted,” Doc told the students. “Don’t ever let anyone make fun of you for trying to be successful. Knowledge is the key.”

The first 3D ThinkLink Lab experience was an eye-opener for everyone.

“All week, we’ve been creating stuff. We’ve been expanding our minds.” said Daikwon.

“I never thought I would be telling somebody to not give up and to just keep trying. If you mess up, just start all over again,” said Jarrod.

These five young trailblazers, who have started over and put themselves on the path to a better life, taught us a great deal during the week. Because of what we learned from their experience, we will be able to accomplish even more in the next immersion labs as we acquire more sophisticated 3D printers.

If you would like to help us expand our 3D ThinkLink Initiative, please CLICK HERE to make a donation or contact us at info@YouthQuestFoundation.org or (703) 234-4633.

YouthQuest Golf Tournament Raises Funds to Help At-Risk Youth

Waterfall and clubhouse at Trump National Golf Club, Washington, DC

It was a day of fun and fundraising as about 150 golfers, sponsors and volunteers took part in the Challenge at Trump National Aug. 11.

Tournament Committee Chairman Bill Hall hailed the ninth annual event as “another resounding success.”

Golf Entertainer Brad Denton demonstrates putting techniques at the 2014 Challenge at Trump National

Golf Entertainer Brad Denton shows players how to improve their short game

The tournament generated enough money to ensure that we will achieve our goal of opening a 3D printing lab at our headquarters in Chantilly, Va., by the end of this year, according to YouthQuest Co-Founder and President Lynda Mann. This is an important step in the growth of our 3D ThinkLink Initiative, which helps at-risk teens strengthen their creativity, critical thinking and problem solving skills.

After Golf Entertainer Brad Denton’s demonstration of putting techniques the pros use, the players headed out onto the Championship Course at Trump National Golf Club, Washington, DC. Thanks to General Manager Det Williams, Director of Golf Kevin Morris, event planner Vicky Kurasz and the rest of the excellent Trump National staff, everything ran smoothly on and off the course.

YouthQuest Co-Founder and President Lynda Mann presents Chris Eaton's Volunteer of the Year Award to his mother, Betty Eaton

Betty Eaton with Lynda Mann

The VIP guests assigned to each team included retired Major League Soccer goalkeeper Mike Ammann, pitchers Pete Schourek and Shawn Camp from Major League Baseball, active and retired members of Fairfax County Fire and Rescue, U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Brett Kayes and the always-supportive Washington Redskins alumni.

The day wrapped up with an award ceremony and reception, where Chris Eaton was remembered with a posthumous Volunteer of the Year Award. Chris, who had served as a volunteer at the tournament every year since 2008, suffered a fatal heart attack while competing in a triathlon a week after last year’s Challenge at Trump National. His mother, Betty Eaton, accepted a plaque honoring him during our VIP Reception on Aug. 7.

Joey Darley of Joey’s Smiles Photography and Scene2bSeen received the 2014 Community Partner Award in recognition of his longstanding support for YouthQuest’s mission.

Author John Gilstrap signs a book for tournament volunteer Lou Childs at the 2014 Challenge at Trump National reception Aug. 11

John Gilstrap signs his book End Game for tournament volunteer Lou Childs

New York Times bestselling author John Gilstrap joined us at both receptions to sign copies of his new thriller, End Game. As part of the live auction at our 2012 wine event, John offered to put the highest bidder in the book.  Ryan and Tre Cage won the bidding and asked John to give the character their mother’s name. So while we know Jolaine Cage as a key YouthQuest volunteer, she’s a highly trained security specialist on the run in End Game.

We’re grateful to Michael Garcia and his staff at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in McLean, Va., for hosting the VIP Reception again this year. It was a great opportunity for our supporters to meet some of the young people they’re helping through their contributions to YouthQuest. Five students who were participating in a week of 3D ThinkLink Lab immersion training showed off their creations and told our guests about how they’ve benefited from being involved in our project.

3D ThinkLink Lab student Daikwon Jones explains his solar robot to Joy Gilstrap at YouthQuest's VIP Reception Aug. 7, 2014

Daikwon Jones explains his solar-powered robot to Joy Gilstrap at the VIP Reception

Several new sponsors joined us this year, including Wells Fargo Private Bank, which sponsored Brad Denton’s appearance.

This tournament wouldn’t be possible without the work of our volunteers, led this year by John Bloom. We deeply appreciate the time and effort everyone devoted to making the event a success.

Because of the generosity of our supporters, YouthQuest is doing more than ever to provide academic and vocational development, infrastructure and life-enriching experiences for America’s at-risk youth.

Our next tournament will take place on Monday, August 10, 2015. Sponsors are already signing up and we’re working on plans to make the 10th annual Challenge at Trump National the best one yet.

YouthQuest Launches 3D ThinkLink Lab Training

YouthQuest President Lynda Mann with 3D ThinkLink Lab students Jarrod Burley, Rashad Byrd, Daikwon Jones, Brice Lamb and Joey Clark on August 4, 2014.

Today marks an important milestone in the growth of our 3D ThinkLink Initiative. For the first time, we’ve brought students to our headquarters for a week of immersion training.

These students learned the basics of 3D design and printing in our spring classes at Maryland’s Freestate ChalleNGe Academy, South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy and the District of Columbia’s Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy. During this week’s 3D ThinkLink Lab experience, they will do creative, hand-on projects to add new layers to their understanding of 3D printing and to build up their critical thinking skills.

Daikwon Jones dreams up ways to customize the robot he just assembled.

Daikwon Jones dreams up ways to customize the solar-powered robot he just assembled.

This morning’s session began with a discussion about solving problems, then the students got right to work assembling solar-powered robots and using their 3D printing skills to customize their creations.

Another project for the group will be to invent a device that allows a person who has a prosthetic arm to use an electric toothbrush. Under the guidance of YouthQuest Director of Instruction Tom Meeks, the students will design, print and install the device to test and evaluate their concept.

On Thursday night, the students will showcase their projects during YouthQuest’s annual VIP Reception at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse in McLean, Va.

The members of our first 3D ThinkLink Lab class are: Jarrod Burley and Rashad Byrd (Maryland), Daikwon Jones (DC), Joey Clark and Brice Lamb (SC).

We also thank Freestate’s Tim Jackson, Capital Guardian’s Keith Hammond and Herman Lantz, and South Carolina’s Sammie Brown for joining us at YouthQuest headquarters in Chantilly, Va., this week to help with the training and chaperone the students.

Essay ‘From the Heart’ Earns Scholarship for 3D Printing Student

YouthQuest President Lynda Mann presents a $500 scholarship to Requan Da Sant for his winning essay about his experience in the 3D ThinkLink class at Freestate ChalleNGe Academy.

Recent Freestate ChalleNGe Academy graduate Requan Da Sant is the winner of the first essay competition for students in the YouthQuest Foundation’s 3D ThinkLink Initiative classes.

He earned a $500 scholarship for writing about how the STEM education project for at-risk youth has affected his life.

Requan Da Sant shows a Morgan State University student how to design a 3D object.

Requan Da Sant shows a Morgan State University student how to design a 3D object.

“Being able to use computers for graphic arts and be recognized for it is a dream come true,” Requan said in his essay, The Impact of Creativity.

YouthQuest provides instruction in 3D design and printing at Freestate in Aberdeen, Md., as well as the District of Columbia’s Capital Guardian and South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academies, where high school dropouts get the opportunity to turn their lives around in residential programs run by the National Guard Youth Foundation. The 3D ThinkLink classes promote critical thinking and creativity while introducing students to the booming technology of additive manufacturing.

Requan’s essay focused on a visit in April to Morgan State University in Baltimore, where he and his classmates showed college students how to create 3D objects. He described it as a “life-altering event” that made him feel “empowered” and helped improve his leadership skills.

YouthQuest Director of Instruction Tom Meeks watches as Freestate Cadet Requan Da Sant operates a 3D scanner at YouthQuest's booth at the USA Science & Engineering Festival in Washington, DC, April 25, 2014.

Requan Da Sant operates a 3D scanner as part of  YouthQuest’s exhibit at the USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, DC.

Requan, 16, said the opportunity to teach college students also reassured him that he should continue his education.

Students in all three 3D ThinkLink classes were invited to write about their experiences. Members of the YouthQuest Foundation Board of Directors judged the entries.

“The reason he was selected by the Board was because he wrote from the heart,” YouthQuest President and Co-Founder Lynda Mann said at the Freestate awards ceremony June 10.

Requan plans to return to high school and earn his diploma, then join the Air Force Reserve and study graphic engineering in college. He will receive the scholarship money after he completes high school.

“I am a very creative individual with the readiness to work and achieve great possibilities,” he wrote.

We have no doubt Requan will do exactly that.

Here is his winning essay:

My 3D ThinkLink Experience: The Impact of Creativity

I truly appreciate being chosen for this potential scholarship. My name is Requan Da Sant and I attend Freestate Challenge Academy. I am 16 years old and I live in Edgewood, Maryland. I believe I should be chosen for this scholarship because I have demonstrated hard-work ethics, responsibility, and the willingness to learn and further my knowledge. I am a very creative individual with the readiness to work and achieve great possibilities. Albert Einstein once said, “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination”. While attending Freestate Challenge Academy I was given the opportunity to experience a training which involved a 3D ThinkLink course. This course consists of a program called Moment of Inspiration.  While using this program we are able to build objects and produce them on our 3D Printing Machine.

I had the honor to teach college students at Morgan State University on April 23, 2014. This was their first encounter with the program. The program was taught to the students in a step by step process. At the end of this process each student was able to build their own 3D key chain. As each student completed their key chain I felt empowered. They were very intrigued by the 3D software and what it detailed. The wise words of Audrey Hepburn, “Nothing is impossible, for the word itself say I’m possible” inspired me to continue on with 3D ThinkLink training and the outstanding growth it brought to my leadership goals.

Being given an opportunity to teach college students at such a prestigious school such as Morgan State University is a life-altering event. It gave me the reassurance that going to college is the best option for me. My fellow cadets and I were greeted with such gratitude and enthusiasm, it made my peers and I feel as though we were on top of the world.

To be offered a scholarship of this magnitude at this point in my life is a blessing. Being able to use computers for graphic arts and be recognized for it is a dream come true. Graphic arts is something that has always fascinated me. I plan to stay focused and further my career in the graphic engineering field.

I remember my mother always telling me, “You are so intelligent and if you use your mind for good, you can really go far in life”. I always think about her saying this in my mind and use it for motivation. If not for my mother I probably, never mind the probably, I would not be where I am right now. She has inspired me to obtain and achieve the unachievable. If I receive this scholarship, it would make my mother proud and it would also make me proud. It would be an honor and a blessing to receive this scholarship. Thank you very much for an opportunity such as you have given me.

VIDEO: Spring 2014 3D Printing Class Awards

YouthQuest Vice President and Co-Founder Allen Cage speaks at awards ceremony for 3D printing class from Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy on June 14, 2014 at the University of the District of Columbia.

The YouthQuest Foundation is celebrating our 3D ThinkLink Initiative’s biggest class cycle since the STEM education project began. Thirty students received certificates of completion this month.

YouthQuest provided 36 hours of instruction in 3D design and printing to help the students at National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Academies in South Carolina, Maryland and the District of Columbia improve their critical thinking skills and explore their creative abilities.

YouthQuest Vice President and Co-Founder Allen Cage spoke during the Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy commencement ceremony at the University of the District of Columbia on June 14.

Students at Freestate received their awards from President and Co-Founder Lynda Mann during a ceremony on June 10 in Aberdeen, Md.

YouthQuest Secretary Bill Hall represented the Foundation at the South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy’s awards ceremony in Eastover, S.C., on June 9. We don’t have video from the South Carolina event, but you can see photos of the SCYCA class during Vocational Orientation Day here.

A total of 56 at-risk teens have completed our 3D ThinkLink Initiative training since we launched the project at Freestate early last year.

Several of the students from the latest classes will be invited to participate in a week of immersion training in August at our headquarters in Chantilly, Va., to add more layers to their knowledge of 3D printing.

YouthQuest is working to expand the 3D ThinkLink Initiative to more ChalleNGe programs and other youth organizations that work in underserved communities. We are also creating a 3D fabrication laboratory, which will have advanced hardware and software for students and members of the local community to use.

If you would like to make a tax-deductible contribution to support our work with at-risk youth, click here to donate or contact us at info@youthquestfoundation.org or (703) 234-4633.

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL THE GRADUATES

Freestate ChalleNGe Academy
Jarrod Burley
Rashad Byrd
Kayla Coleman
Requan Da Sant
Dakota Doyle
Harold Dugger
Rene Martinez-Zapata
Darius Monroe
Denzel Thyme
Christian Zapata

Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy
Gerardo Aguilar
Daisha Allen
Estafania Contreras-Flores
Alexander Cruz
Daikow Jones
Daquan Lewis
Thomas Lewis
Demetrius Morgan
John Platt
Rasaan Washington

South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy
Joseph Bennett
Joseph Clark
Terrance Flagler
Raymond Gilliam
Megan Jones
Brice Lamb
Tyrese Patrick
Gregory Thompson
Tevin Vanderhall
Christopher Watts

3D Printing Class Graduates Explore Career Opportunities

Director of Project Management Derek Johnson leads ThinkLink students from South Carolina on a tour of 3D Systems headquarters in Rock Hill

A wide world of possibilities awaits the students from South Carolina, Maryland and the District of Columbia who have just completed the 3D ThinkLink Initiative training course provided by the YouthQuest Foundation.

They got a close-up look at some of their educational and career opportunities during Vocational Orientation events last week.

YouthQuest’s 3D design and printing classes supplement the math and science curriculum at three National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Academies, where high school dropouts get a chance to turn their lives around. Our project introduces these at-risk teens to the revolutionary technology of additive manufacturing while also helping them develop the critical thinking and problem-solving skills they need to succeed.

3D ThinkLink Initiative students from Maryland and DC visit the 3D Systems factory in Herndon, Va., June 6, 2014

Students at the 3D Systems plant in Virginia

The South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy class was treated to an extensive tour of 3D Systems headquarters in Rock Hill, S.C., on June 5. The next day, the Cadets from Maryland’s Freestate and DC’s Capital Guardian programs visited the 3D Systems facility in Herndon, Va., where the Cube 2 printers they used in class were made.

The company is the Foundation’s strategic partner in the 3D ThinkLink Initiative.

“3D Systems really pulled out all the stops for us,” said YouthQuest President and Co-Founder Lynda Mann.

She praised the many 3D Systems employees who took time to show the students around and answer their questions. Their explanations helped the Cadets see how concepts they learned about in school, such as the scientific method, are used on the job.

In Rock Hill, employees from many departments – such as accounting, legal, sales and human resources – joined the students during lunch to take the conversation beyond technology. They asked about the Cadets’ aspirations and described the sometimes-twisted path they took to their job at 3D Systems. The teens came away with some valuable insights to consider as they plan their own careers.

The South Carolina students wrapped up their day with a visit to ITT Technical Institute in Columbia, where they explored opportunities in skilled-trades education and used a computer program to create some simple house designs.

University of Maryland FabLab Director Jim O'Connor holds a silicon disk

Maryland FabLab Director Jim O’Connor

The Maryland NanoCenter at the University of Maryland was the first stop for the DC and Maryland students on June 6. FabLab Director Jim O’Connor used a 60-year-old transistor radio and a silicon disk printed with billions of microscopic transistors to illustrate nanotechnology. Then he took the group into a lab where engineers and biologists are working together to 3D-print human tissue.

The Cadets were impressed and pleasantly surprised to learn that they’re only a few years younger than many of the students they met who help with the groundbreaking research in the lab.

Switching from the research to the production aspects of 3D printing, the students toured Prototype Productions, Inc. in Ashburn, Va.

PPI’s Chief Technology Officer Ben Feldman and Project Engineer Darin Janoschka showed how the company uses a combination of additive manufacturing and traditional machine shop work to develop products for clients in industries including medical, biotech, aerospace and defense.

Coming a week before graduation, these Vocational Orientation events were important in providing real-world context for the lessons the students learned in class. Now, as they take the next step in their lives, they have a better understanding of the options available to them, thanks to our 3D ThinkLink Initiative.

VIDEO: YouthQuest’s Strategic Partnerships

3D Systems display at 2014 USA Science and Engineering Festival

YouthQuest Co-Founders Lynda Mann and Allen Cage praise the Foundation’s strategic partners: The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, 3D Systems Inc., Virginia Tech and Trump National Golf Club, Washington, DC.

All four of these partners continue to make vital contributions to our mission of helping at-risk youth achieve their potential as productive citizens.

Register Now for the Challenge at Trump National Golf Club

Golf Entertainer Brad Denton at YouthQuest's 2013 Challenge at Trump National

You’re invited to be part of YouthQuest’s signature fundraising event to support our programs for at-risk youth, the 9th Annual Challenge at Trump National Golf Club, on Monday, August 11.

CLICK HERE for registration and sponsorship level information.

Your support for this tournament is crucial in our Foundation’s mission to help at-risk youth across America become productive citizens through education and employment.

Students with a 3D printer at the DC Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy

Students with a 3D printer at the DC Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy

Nationally, we provide opportunities for high school dropouts to turn their lives around with projects such as the 3D ThinkLink Initiative. Thanks to our 3D design and printing classes at National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Academies, former dropouts from Maryland, South Carolina and the District of Columbia are developing critical thinking and problem solving skills that will help them make better decisions as they enter adulthood.

Funds raised through the golf tournament will help us expand this unique STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education project to include more states and other organizations that work with at-risk youth in underserved communities.

Locally, we support programs that prevent kids from dropping out of school and show them how to become productive citizens. For example, the Foundation has contributed to College Tribe’s tutoring programs to keep young African-American men in Southeast DC on the path to college. We also sponsor the annual Step Up Loudoun Youth Competition, in which students create projects to solve problems facing teens in Loudoun County, Va.

Action at the 2013 Challenge at Trump National

Action at the 2013 Challenge at Trump National

It will be a full day of fun and networking at the world-class Trump National Golf Club, Washington, DC, as our sponsors and guests make valuable face-to-face connections with business and community leaders, as well as local sports figures and other celebrities. Each foursome will be matched up with a celebrity player.

Everyone will enjoy breakfast in the clubhouse and demonstration by Golf Entertainer Brad Denton before a 9:30 am shotgun start on the scenic and challenging course along the Potomac River. Lunch will be served on the course and there will be an awards reception at the Trump National clubhouse to wrap up the day.

In addition, tournament sponsors and VIPs will attend a reception Thursday night, Aug. 7 at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar in Tysons Corner, Va.

Last year’s Challenge at Trump National was the biggest and best so far. We’re determined to top it this year. You can help make it happen by signing up to be a player, sponsor or volunteer — or by making a donation for the silent auction or player gift bags.

Contact us at info@youthquestfoundation.org or (703) 234-4633.

VIDEO: 3D ThinkLink Initiative on Display at USA Science & Engineering Festival

A Freestate ChalleNGe Academy Cadet in YouthQuest's 3D ThinkLink Initiative class 3D scans a young visitor to the Foundation's exhibit at the USA Science & Engineering Festival on April 26, 2014

Students in YouthQuest’s 3D ThinkLink Initiative classes got the opportunity to do some learning and some teaching at the USA Science & Engineering Festival in Washington, DC, on April 25-27.

The Cadets and teachers from Maryland’s Freestate ChalleNGe Academy and the District of Columbia’s Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy joined our Foundation’s President and Co-Founder Lynda Mann, Director of Instruction Tom Meeks and Communications Director Steve Pendlebury at YouthQuest’s exhibit booth.

“Everyone had a good experience here,” said Capital Guardian Cadet Alexander Cruz. “It was too interesting. You find things you would never think of.”

“I’m glad to be exposed to new things like this,” added his classmate, Cadet Daikwon Jones.

The 3rd USA Science & Engineering Festival was billed as America’s largest celebration of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). Imagine a three-day school science fair that fills both levels of the Washington Convention Center, in which the parents helped make all the displays – and all the parents are geniuses.

Hundreds of children and adults stopped by our booth to see what our students are learning and to hear about how the 3D ThinkLink Initiative is helping them develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

“I got to see stuff I never saw before. I got to think in ways other than I usually think about how to solve problems using different types of strategies,” Capital Guardian Cadet Demetrius Morgan said.

With the help of our strategic partner, 3D Systems, we had students operate a Sense 3D scanner to show how multiple images are captured and stitched together to create the data file that is then turned into a plastic object by a Cube 3D printer.

The Cadets also helped small children assemble 3D-printed stackable beehive puzzles to demonstrate the concept of building objects in layers. They explained to the kids that bees are nature’s 3D printers because they make honeycombs by stacking up layers of wax in precise patterns, just as the Cube machine does with heated plastic filament.

“It was a good experience to talk to people about 3D printing,” said Freestate Cadet Daniel Mueller. “I have a better understanding of it now.”

When they weren’t staffing the booth, the students explored other exhibits and quickly discovered that they’re seeing the start of the additive manufacturing boom. The technology they’re learning about in class is quickly spreading to all sorts of industries, opening new career opportunities for those who have 3D design and printing skills.

Visitors who had been to the festival before remarked about how many displays included 3D printers this time. Just a year or two ago, the machines were a rarity. In fact, there were so many this year that a young boy asked one of our fellow exhibitors, “Is 3D printing the theme of this festival?”

It might as well have been.

However, there was also much more on display at the USASEF.

“One thing I found fascinating was the robots; how they built them, and how they use them for many things from just plain toys to defusing bombs for the SWAT team,” said Freestate Cadet Dakota Doyle.

The festival helped Freestate Cadet Kayla Coleman “learn much more about astronomy.” Her dream is to work for NASA.

“I never thought I’d be interested in science stuff like this” said Capital Guardian Cadet Daisha Allen. Being at the festival changed her mind.

In addition to learning more about STEM subjects, the students got to work on their presentation skills and practice speaking in public.

“It gave me more of the skills of talking to people because I’m not really used to it, but I know it’s something I have to work on. So it was fun for me to learn how to communicate with people better,” said Freestate Cadet Kayla McFadden.

Several visitors to our booth remarked about how poised and well-spoken the Cadets were – and what a good job they did working with the younger children.

It was clear, though, that there’s still a bit of little kid in these young men and women who are just weeks away from graduation. Asked to name their favorite activity at the USASEF, the overwhelming majority of Cadets said it was getting to eat graham crackers that had been dipped in super-cold liquid nitrogen.

To see why, watch this video from one of the STEM celebrities who appeared at the festival, Bill Nye the Science Guy.

Visit YouthQuest’s Exhibit at the USA Science & Engineering Festival

USA Science & Engineering Festival logo

YouthQuest’s 3D ThinkLink Initiative will be on display at America’s largest celebration of STEM, the USA Science & Engineering Festival, April 26-27 in Washington, DC.

Students and teachers from the 3D design and printing classes the Foundation sponsors at Freestate ChalleNGe Academy and Capital Guardian Youth ChalleNGe Academy will participate in our interactive exhibit, “Better Thinking Through 3D Printing.”

YouthQuest Director of Instruction Tom Meeks talks to children about 3D printing at a STEM career fair in Dulles, Va.

3D printers always attract curious kids and adults at events like this STEM career fair with Director of Instruction Tom Meeks last year.

Our 3D ThinkLink Initiative helps teach at-risk youth to think differently and solve problems creatively so they can make better decisions as they enter adulthood. The Freestate and Capital Guardian Cadets at our booth will be telling visitors what they’ve learned and showing how they use software and hardware to turn ideas into 3D-printed reality.

Our strategic partner 3D Systems is teaming up with us for this event. We will have neighboring booths at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. We’ll also use the company’s Sense scanners and Sculpt modeling software to capture 3D images of booth visitors and put their faces on coins and cameos created on the spot by 3D Systems printers.

The bookmark/rulers we’ll be handing out at our booth will show visitors how to try 3D printing themselves. By going to a page on our website, they will be able to create customized rings and tags using 3D Systems’ online Cubify tools.

If you’re going to be in the Washington area April 26-27, please visit us at Booth 1136 in Exhibit Hall A of the Convention Center from 9 am to 6 pm Saturday and Sunday.

The USA Science & Engineering Festival is FREE and open to all ages.

USASEF is a national grassroots effort to advance STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education and inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. This third annual event will bring together hundreds of the leading professional scientific and engineering societies, universities, government agencies, high-tech corporations and STEM outreach and community organizations.

More than 250,000 K-12 students and parents, 5,000 teachers and 3,000 STEM professionals are expected. They’ll experience more than 3,000 fun, hands-on activities and 150 stage shows featuring science celebrities such as Bill Nye the Science Guy, Dirty Jobs host Mike Rowe, physicist and visionary Michio Kaku and the Grammy-winning band They Might Be Giants.

The festival will include a Career Pavilion and College Fair for high school students.

Visit this link to plan your day at USASEF: http://www.usasciencefestival.org/

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