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Thinking Huts launches pilot project to 3D print school in Madagascar

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Thinking Huts, a charitable startup founded by an innovative young mind, Maggie Grout, is seeking to use 3D printing to make education more accessible in Madagascar. Specifically, the organization is developing plans for a 3D printed school in the African nation, where 60% of primary-school-aged children are not enrolled. Eventually, it plans to build more schools in developing regions where access to education is limited.

Grout founded Thinking Huts when she was just 15, inspired by the idea that education is powerful and empowering tool. “Thinking Huts started after consideration of the underlying sources of worldly troubles,” reads the startup’s website. “Every analysis of human-produced maladies leads back to a varying set of causes. However, one cause remained consistent. Namely, the lack of access to education. When education is supported and accepted, it holds the key to the progress for the whole human race.”

Though there are many factors that play into lack of education around the world, infrastructure is one, and that’s where Grout and her organization believe they can make a difference. At a foundational level, Thinking Huts wants to build schools in developing regions using construction 3D printing.

Thinking Huts 3D printed school

Its plan can be more fully understood through its pilot project, which will construct a school building in the Southeastern Anosy region of Madagascar. The project, which is being undertaken in partnership with SEED Madagascar, has a five-year roadmap that consists of building the Hut v1.0, a prototype structure that will be used to test the portability, cost and effectiveness of the school design.

3D printing will enable the team to build the school from locally sourced materials and to minimize its overall environmental impact in the local community. The roadmap also addresses the integration of solar power and internet into the school building, as well as desks, chairs and tables. The school design also includes a secure door and operating windows. The construction 3D printing element will be undertaken in partnership with Finland-based Hyperion Robotics.

In addition to building the school, Thinking Huts also plans to be involved in developing the educational curriculum, partnering with local communities and providing educational resources about many topics, including health, life skills, mathematics, science, literacy and more. The initiative will also support an online portal that will enable teachers and students to share lessons, collaborate with other schools and access more resources. The nonprofit also has a few other initiatives in the works, including a seminar program, ambassador program and learning kit. Presently, Thinking Huts is seeking financial support through partner donations.

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Tess Boissonneault

Tess Boissonneault is a Montreal-based content writer and editor with five years of experience covering the additive manufacturing world. She has a particular interest in amplifying the voices of women working within the industry and is an avid follower of the ever-evolving AM sector. Tess holds a master's degree in Media Studies from the University of Amsterdam.

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