How many of today’s adults got their first “all by myself” cooking experiences with an EasyBake Oven? I know I did. (I had the first version, which came in a sort of turquoise blue. Perhaps that’s why I’ve been painting my kitchens turquoise ever since.) EasyBake cakes and cookies didn’t taste all that great, but they were definitely identifiable as cakes and cookies, and I did it all by myself. It was a huge confidence builder for later experiments in the kitchen.
XYZprinting thinks the same path is possible for generating STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) abilities. Start kids off making things on a 3D printer that requires only minimal adult supervision, and they’ll build the confidence needed to move on to bigger tools and more complicated projects later on. This week, the company launched what it hopes is going to be the EasyBake Oven of STEAM: the da Vinci MiniMaker. The compact $250 3D printer can create objects as large as 15 centimeters in each dimension out of nontoxic filament.
That $250 sounds a bit pricey for something in the EasyBake Oven category, but consider that the original EasyBake Oven, which sold for $16 in 1963, would cost about $125 in today’s dollars. Or that XYZ is trying to pull shoppers away from $300-plus video-game systems. Or that it hopes a big market will be classroom teachers.