Ever since I first learned of them, I’ve been fascinated with 3-D printers.  Cutting-edge applications for this technology have been proposed or are in development for everything from printing prosthetic ears with living cartilage cells, to printing buildings for a moon base.

But 3-D printers are high-tech and hideously expensive (even $1,200-$1,500 is REALLY steep for your average public school!).  Could they have a use in schools?  The folks at OnlineDegrees.Org think so.  They’ve prepared a graphic to explain their ideas.  Here’s part of it:

Some seem like little more than gimmicks (coughs: Jell-o molds), though I could be all wrong about chef-training for the avant garde world of future gastronomy, which can start in high school.

The truth is, we don’t know all the ways that this amazing new technology can or will be used–who predicted the ability to print a plastic gun that fires real bullets?  Yet they are now a reality. 

Because they are clearly an important and rapidly-expanding part of our future, they most definitely belong in schools.  But if we’re still “teaching like it’s 1980” how can we meet that challenge?  And with lawmakers cutting education budgets right and left, a fancy newfangled gizmo that costs–holy smokes! One to two grand?!?–get real.

Actually, “real” is what we truly must get, as in welcome to the real world–where evolution keeps happening every day, the climate really is changing dramatically, and new technology is not just coming, but already here.

Are we preparing the kids?