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Tinkercad could be used in numerous ways, from creating designs based on a scientific concept to being featured in a unit or class on 3D design and printing. For example, in a challenge-based lesson, students could design a solution to an authentic problem from their community. Students could be asked to think of some problem that a physical object could solve and then be given a couple of weeks to design and test their solutions. Alternatively, students who are engaged with Minecraft in schools can extend their play-create experience by importing Tinkercad objects. Imagine the possibilities of students bringing literature, math, and even foreign language concepts to life by designing and printing objects around class content. Even if a classroom doesn't have a 3D printer, students can order prints of their creations from Tinkercad partners who produce and ship them. Each print job can cost a bit of money, though, depending on the size and materials chosen.
Options to share and improve upon others' designs bring a high level of collaboration with one another and the wider community of creators, as well as opportunities to teach students about creators' rights and derivative works. And the rich resources available on the site give students a chance to experience the design process in meaningful and relevant ways.Continue reading Show less
Tinkercad is a free, kid-friendly online computer-aided design (CAD) program where users can design, modify, and print 3D objects. 3D printing has become a given in much of today's tech-rich environment, but students are still fascinated by both the capabilities and the process of such innovations. Available to anyone with an internet connection via a web browser (Chrome is recommended), Tinkercad makes it easy for students to learn a staple of the design process: combining multiple simple objects to make more complex shapes. It also allows students to design their own shapes or pick shapes to subtract from their projects, providing an easy way to create arches or holes using negative space as a tool. Beyond these two basic procedures, students also get a slew of other tools at their disposal, such as stretching, rotating, and deforming. Even better, designers can order 3D prints of their creations, making it very easy to create their own smartphone cases, custom Lego pieces, or whatever they can imagine making with flexible combinations of 3D objects.
The Codeblocks feature, now in beta, offers students even more chances to develop their design skills and bring together creativity and coding for a true STEAM experience. Many students will also be delighted to find out they can import their creations into Minecraft. This offers an excellent opportunity for students to level up their gaming skills by designing more complex structures in Tinkercad and then refining them in Minecraft.
New users of Tinkercad are immediately introduced to a series of scaffolded mini-lessons on how to use its various tools. Along the way, they also make some pretty cool things. The best part is the ability to move in and out of the lessons whenever they want to and immediately incorporate lesson ideas into their own design projects.
Tinkercad users can share their projects with others through its online community; this is essential to the overall Tinkercad experience. A huge part of the appeal is that designers can share and discuss custom tools, shapes, and projects. Designers can also allow or prohibit derivative works, teaching students the ins and outs of creative credit and legal protections. The Community Forum encourages feature requests -- it's rich with suggestions and, inevitably, some complaints. But it creates a great opportunity for kids to engage in thinking not just about problems, but also solutions; the site boasts that many of its improvements stem from the Community, making it a truly collaborative effort. And with new features, such as Codeblocks, students are able to interact on an even wider scale to grow the ideas from seeds, ultimately, into tangible objects.
Key Standards Supported
Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.
Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.
Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.
Design a solution to a complex real-world problem by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable problems that can be solved through engineering.
Use a computer simulation to model the impact of proposed solutions to a complex real-world problem with numerous criteria and constraints on interactions within and between systems relevant to the problem.