FabSLAM: National 3D Printing Competition for Youth

The Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC), the Technology Councils of North America (TECNA), and the Digital Harbor Foundation (DHF) are partnering to bring the FabSLAM (Student Learning; Apprenticeship Model) youth competition for digital fabrication/3D printing to science centers across the country. FabSLAM focuses on innovative solutions to real-world problems and builds 21st century science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills.

Regional FabSLAM competitions will take place in five selected science centers and museums, with support from the network of technology councils and with content expertise provided by the Digital Harbor Foundation. Through the competitions and associated educator trainings, it is anticipated that more than 5,000 youth will benefit from increased exposure to cutting-edge technology and access to opportunities for digital fabrication and design process experiences, as well as support and mentorship from STEM professionals in their area.

This initiative is a continuation and expansion of the work of the Digital Harbor Foundation Center of Excellence for Innovation in Technology Education that was launched at the 2014 White House Maker Faire. The FabSLAM program is designed to support youth by engaging them in identifying, designing, prototyping, testing, and iterating solutions to real-world problems. Project topic areas have included travel, wearable technology, home kitchen-use, and entertainment. To learn more about the FabSLAM program and to see examples of past events, please complete the interest form at digitalharbor.org/fabslam/expansion.

FabSLAM Process

  1. Register Interest (June–September 2015): Interested science centers and museums complete the form here to register interest.
  2. Attend Online Meeting (September 2015): Google Hangout meeting with all interested ASTC science center staff; interested science centers receive FabSLAM planning guide.
  3. Apply to Participate (October 2015): Interested science centers submit a proposal outlining how they will host a FabSLAM competition in their location.
  4. Applications Reviewed (November 2015): DHF evaluates the ASTC site proposals and makes recommendations for the 5 sites that are best equipped to host the FabSLAM program in 2015–2016.
  5. Selected Centers Announced (December 2015): Selected science centers are notified; science centers begin marketing the competition and recruiting youth teams to participate.
  6. 3D Printing Trainings (February–March 2016): 3D printing training workshops held at participating science centers.
  7. FabSLAM Competitions Begin (March–April 2016): FabSLAM program launches; FabSLAM Showcases held at the end of April at all participating ASTC centers.
  8. National Student Winners Announced (May 2016): DHF selects national winner of FabSLAM from among the winners at regional science centers.



  • Expose more youth to 3D printing
  • Build 3D printing expertise across the country
  • Provide youth with design cycle experience (design, market research, prototyping, iterating)
  • Connect ASTC members with innovative STEM learning experiences


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