Reflecting on My Work in Tinkercad

Four weeks ago, I set a new learning goal for myself:

Learn how to use Tinkercad to design and print at least three different types of projects: a sign, something with moving parts, and something that has a practical application.

Over the next few weeks, I spent a lot of time on YouTube, watching videos about 3D design and Tinkercad. I created a 3D printed sign using three different colors of PLA in one print, a first for me! I also looked in some help forums to see if there is an easier way to know when to pause and switch but most people suggested getting a printer with multiple extruders.

Then I came up with the idea to create a new part for our constantly evolving marble run in the new IDEA Studio at my school. Originally, I thought my “practical” project would be something like a desk organizer but after watching this video I realized I could create something for students to use! Check out the video below to see and hear some of the trials and tribulations that were involved in that project.

Finally, I spent time working on the third part of my goal, to create a project with moving parts. This video was particularly helpful in getting me started. I was inspired to create a vehicle, which turned out to look close to a school bus, with moving wheels. The actual design process really challenged my spatial reasoning and it took a number of iterations to get my design right. Getting to practice and test things in Tinkercad that I thought should work but had never tried before (e.g., making a hole and inserting an object inside so it will move freely when printed) was really helpful in deepening my understanding of how 3D printing works. Now that I’ve made one project like this, I want to help students to learn how to do it too. I think something like this might be my next goal.

I really enjoyed learning through YouTube and I think it’s a great way to learn a new skill since it can be done anytime, anywhere and easily align with my learning needs and pace. Since I primarily work with Pre-K to 2nd grade students, I would be cautious about sending them onto YouTube to search for any topic they want to learn. I think creating playlists on YouTube with pre-screened videos about topics they’ve raised could be a great way for them to use this learning approach in a more restricted environment. As for help forums, I am a little less sold on their impact. I found 3D Hubs a bit hard to navigate and their search function not particularly narrow. was more useful but I think my PLN, where I’ve built relationshps and personal connections, is often the best help forum. I think Twitter often acts like a help forum itself and if I put a question out using relevant hashtags (e.g., #makered and #3Dprinting) and maybe a few names of people doing that work, I can get great results.

This video is a summary of the three projects and my experience learning to design in Tinkercad:

Get Things Done with Trello


My Trello GTD Board

I had a chance to learn more about the Get Things Done (GTD) method created by David Allen this week in my MSU course Teaching for Understanding with Technology. I’ve heard of the GTD method before and even tried exploring it on my own but I always found the process a bit overwhelming.

A view of the calendar

A view of my Trello GTD calendar

I already incorporate a number of different tools (e.g., Evernote, Google Apps, Pinterest, etc) in my workflow to increase productivity but I often find myself reverting to the Mac Stickies app to collect to-do’s and prioritize tasks. Last year, I started playing around with Trello because I liked the visual nature of it and the way it integrates a calendar, checklists, and attachments like Google docs or links. Initially, I setup my Trello using this seven step process but I found it hard to sustain. I realized that I needed to better organize the various projects I’m involved with before figuring out which things to work on each day. Here’s the new system I created:

Throughout the day, quickly add cards manually or even via email to the “Stuff” Holding Pen list.

At the beginning and end of each day, review the Collect list and organize the cards into their respective project lists or the “Do it!” list if it is a task that takes under two minutes. If it’s a non-actionable item, I’ll add it to one of my Pinterest boards or Evernote, my two main places where I store resources and ideas to revisit later.

Once tasks are distributed among the project lists, I’ll jump into tackling the actions that take less than two minutes. Then, I’ll give items in my project lists that are a top priority (due in the next 2-4 days) a red label so I’ll know to work on them. Finally, it will be time to get to work on my projects!

I do wish Trello somehow let you have recurring tasks and also cards inside of cards because some projects involve so many actions. I’m excited to see how my new system works over the next few weeks and I’ll try to post an update here to share my experience.


Allen, D. (2001). Getting things done: The art of stress-free productivity. New          York: Penguin.