Getting STEAM-y with Tinkercad Makes Students Creators of 3D Not Just Consumers

Submitted 4 years ago
Samantha M.
Samantha M.
Technology Integrator and Teacher
The Elisabeth Morrow School
Englewood NJ, US
My Rating

My Take

Tinkercad is an amazing online tool that opens up the world of 3D design and circuitry for students and teachers. The power of any program is what you can create with it, import into it and export out of it. Tinkercad excels in all three of these areas. Clearly, you can create with this program. You can also import different types of files which is how we do our "3D design from any image" project. It encourages students to make unique creations and personalize designs. You can also export as three different file types, which means that students can add their designs to other programs such as AR or VR environments.

Besides creating 3D prints they also have a separate tool where students can explore circuitry. This is relatively new and really exciting for teachers and students who want to digitally explore circuits, test them out, and then try to recreate the circuits in the physical world. The circuits students can create start out simple but there are some very advanced tools including programming an Arduino board to control a circuit.

One of the great things about Tinkercad are the lessons and support videos. They really help students take charge of their learning. There are lessons for both the 3D design tool as well as the circuitry tool on the website. The lessons walk you through step-by-step and allow you to repeat steps if necessary or make your own personal modifications.

When it comes to managing Tinkercad in the classroom they have a simple tool that helps teachers manage students. This is especially useful in terms of privacy and managing their passwords if you work with students under the age of 13. You can create groups and monitor student work. I would love to see more features in this part of the website but it's a good start.

Tinkercad is an exceptional online tool that makes 3D design accessible to all students. It is remarkable to see students creating and manipulating shapes to make something that they will eventually hold in their hands. In addition to supporting STEAM initiative it also supports problem-solving and critical thinking skills, plus students learn foundational math and engineering skills. One of the best outcomes of using Tinkercad is the improvement in math skills and how my students relate to math. They have a stronger grasp of the metric system, ratios, and spatial relationships. All of this makes Tinkercad an exciting addition to any classroom.

How I Use It

Tinkercad has been an essential part of many wonderful adventures with 3D printing and design in my classroom. My students start out with making keychains. Keychains are simple enough for every student in fifth through eighth understand how the program functions and develop skills to understand the X Y and Z axis. The students begin to understand how to manipulate shapes and how to use holes creatively to take away material or carve out details. Students quickly move on to more complex projects where they have to understand angles, lift, alignment, grouping, and ratios. We have a strong focus on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) and have used to make designs for birdhouses as part of a science project, castles as part of a history project and an amazing assortment of independent projects ranging from pencil cases to small models to prosthetic hands. I also have directions for students to be able to take any drawing and turn it into a 3D design. They just added a new tool called Scribble it does almost the same thing and students have been enjoying that as well to really personalize their designs. Other uses we use Tinkercad for are creating objects for 3D for augmented reality and virtual reality and exploring circuits.