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. 3dprintingofrum.com 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: