Free robust design program has steep learning curve

Submitted 7 years ago
Melissa Powers
Melissa Powers
School Library and Technology Specialist
My Rating

My Take

Every time I use SketchUp I have to spend a significant amount of time refreshing my memory about how to use it. It also takes several class periods for students to become comfortable with the program, which may not be the best use of instruction time unless you are going to do multiple SketchUp projects. SketchUp is more robust that we generally need and I prefer the simplicity of Tinkercad. However, we use SketchUp because it is installed on the computer (we are a 1:1 laptop school) and students don't need internet access. Tinkercad is web-hosted, requiring student account management, and is often slow or unresponsive during high-volume times.

I want to do more 3D design with my students and I am confident that a better product will emerge, but for now I'll continue to struggle through with SketchUp.

How I Use It

I have used SketchUp for designing structures and designing objects to be 3D printed. As a tech integrationist, I have assisted other teachers in using SketchUp with their students. The simplest project was helping eighth grade students design earthquake-proof schools. The 3D printing projects are more complicated because every detail is important. Most recently, I worked with a sixth grade biology class who was designing prosthetic beaks for birds that had lost theirs (hypothetically). The beaks will eventually be printed, but the design-to-printing process is very time consuming. Most students really enjoy using SketchUp, but very few are actually good at it. The most successful projects are when students can work in groups and each group has one member who is experienced with SketchUp.