The grade six students in Mr. Goertzen’s division 5 learned how to use a sophisticated online 3D program called TinkerCad to design their individual objects; they used the school’s 3D printer produce objects. I asked the students what did they learn from this assignment. Eshu said, “In order to create these objects, you have to combine basic shapes to make more complex shapes.” Rafi told me it involves the use and understanding of geometry. Daniel said they had to learn how to take an existing shape and cut a hole in it to create a new shape. “Once you get the hang of it, the possibilities are unlimited, depending on your creativity,” said Edward.
Below are some reflections from Mr. Goertzen, the classroom teacher: “The students learned how to manipulate, combine, and modify objects on a virtual plane, which could then be exported for 3D printing on our School’s Tinkerine Dito Pro printer. The basic mechanics of adding to, subtracting from, and modifying objects are not complicated, but it does take practice and time to learn. At the end of the instructional lessons, students were able to plan and design their own object and export their designs for printing.
The skills and knowledge that students acquired relates directly to the ADST portion of the new curriculum. They now have a basic understanding of how a 3D printer works, of the field of 3D Design and sculpting (including it’s different practical and aesthetic applications), and they also understand that with enough effort and imagination, they can create almost anything.
Students had a lot of fun with this unit. For some, their enthusiasm drove them to work extra hard at designing complex objects, choosing to work from home as well. That’s the great thing. Once the unit is done, students can continue to sculpt and design from anywhere, as long as they have internet access.
For those who choose to continue learning and applying the skills, there is much potential. Some students might discover more of the world of 3D or graphic design and go on to create fabulous things. Some students might become the new “handy” members of the household, as they are able to repair or replace broken accessories using 3D printing–imagine replacing that missing key on your keyboard by making and printing out a new one. Once students begin to realize the applications of creating and inventing, they get hooked.”