This guide is intended for situations where you want to value-add to your lessons or provide inspiration to students about your content or topic. If you want to use 3D printing as part of a project where students design and make something new (create), then you also need to seek out a curriculum guide for designing and developing products that solve a problem. This guide ranges from finding a suitable 3D object and printing it, to finding a nearly suitable object and making small modifications, to customize it before printing it out. Students could extend on this themselves by making something from scratch, without the guidance of a formalized design process.
Step 1 – Find your thing
There are two resources that can be employed:
- http://www.thingiverse.com/ – this even has a customizer
- http://www.yeggi.com/ – search engine for 3D Models
Whichever way you go, you can download the .STL file you need. This can be either loaded straight into a 3D printer or customized somewhere else. Much of the 3D models in thingiverse can be customized.
Step 2 – Re-mix your thing
Go no further than https://www.tinkercad.com/ . Here, students can upload the .STL file they found and modify it. It’s a good idea for them to try the basic tutorials to get a feel for the tinkercad environment. There may even be a tutorial or project that is exactly what students want to make anyway.
Step 3 – Print your thing
To do this, your students just need to have the .STL file of their thing. For WHS reasons, someone else will print out their thing. If this is a regular activity for your class, then it’s a good idea to train several print monitors or technicians and then students can see this happening in your class. Either way, you will probably need to make arrangements for the manufacturing process.
- Grouping – I highly recommend that students have a ‘buddy’ to work with when learning how to use tynkercad
- Discovery Learning – You will probably not have many of the skills needed for 3D creation and printing. Even if you do, I’m sure there will be some rare skills that you do not have. Therefore, guide students to the thingiverse site and have them explore it together and share what they have discovered. This may mean some movement around the room. Use the stategy, “ask 3 before you ask me”. Even when a student asks you a question that you can’t answer, call out and ask the class if they have a solution. Nine times out of ten, someone will. When students go to tinkercad, direct them to complete the basics tutorials first before attempting any modifications. These can also be reviewed as a reference point later. Again, have students collaborate and help each other.
From here, students may well want to delve deeper into 3D design or you may want to pursue Project-based Learning in another unit. Therefore, your next steps could be:
- https://www.makersempire.com/ – this has entire curricular K-8, but needs a subscription.
- https://academy.autodesk.com/ – free design, engineering, animation, and architecture courses
- http://www.sketchup.com/ – very easy 3D Design software that is free for Education. It is also very well supported and has an extensive 3D Warehouse.
- Creo –Next level up from sketchup. Moderately easy to use 3D design app that is well supported.
- http://www.thingmaker.com/ – look for the app
- http://www.thingiverse.com/education – lots of projects