Editor’s note: Tinkercad is a simple tool with a profound story to tell. Since launching ten years ago, Tinkercad has introduced more than 38 million people to the foundational skills for innovation: 3D design, electronics, and coding.
As we look to our next ten years, we heard from educators around the world that nothing is more helpful than drawing from the inspiration of peer educators. In that vein, we are thrilled to introduce Rob Morrill—published author, Tinkercad teacher extraordinaire, and lifelong educator—to the Tinkercad blog.
Pop quiz: What do these projects have in common? They're all designed in Tinkercad!
Today I am embarking on a journey that feels both brand new and very familiar: I'm super excited to be partnering with Tinkercad. I will be sharing ideas about how educators can use existing and new features from the Tinkercad family of apps to help students explore concepts, expand skills, and communicate the stories of what and how they learn across the curriculum.
Both veteran Tinkercad educators and those brand new to this tool set comprise the target audience of my posts, so I plan to differentiate and provide resources accordingly. While I have used different Tinkercad products with first graders on up through high schoolers, I'm also starting a new role as a 4th-through-8th grade Innovation Lab teacher at the Woodland School, so some of my posts will document the impactful experiences my students build for themselves.
A science-themed, touch-interactive board game with 3D printed game pieces
When I started as a maker educator, I immediately fell in love with standard classic Tinkercad, and honestly, even if nothing had been added or changed, I would still be as smitten today as I was over 6 years ago. The ability to take on a wrench project one week, in which we design, 3D print, test and iterate, and print again functional wrenches, and then the next week to research and lay out habitats for human explorers on Mars is incredibly powerful. Imagination, spatial reasoning, sophisticated problem solving, and boundless connections to curriculum are all on offer in that environment. But, apparently, Autodesk's Tinkercad team is not one to rest on its laurels.
A Tinkercad-designed robot chassis
Every year, new apps and features have been developed that bring a compelling array of creative tools to a first grade through high school audience. For example, I distinctly remember the release of Codeblocks a number of years ago. I first got the chance to really delve into it in the Detroit Convention Center.
In between my daughter's volleyball tournament matches, I explored, tinkered, and toyed with the novel concept of creating 3D designs with code. Loops and variables took on all new meaning and power as they had the ability to transform my designs with the adjustment of a single number. I sat over my computer so transfixed that the threat of errant volleyballs and the constant cries of “C’mon, side out!” from 75 courts didn’t even distract me.
A 3D printed lithophane honoring Shirley Chisholm with a background coded in Codeblocks
Other features and apps Tinkercad has added include coding and simulation environments for the Micro:bit and Arduino, Google Classroom integration, standards-aligned lesson plans, an iPad app version with augmented reality, the ability to send designs to Fusion 360, and much more. See this page for an overview of updates made during 2020-21.
A design created with empathy in order to increase accessibility
I can’t wait to share techniques, resources, and plans for using Tinkercad tools to empower student learning across the curriculum in 2D, 3D, and digital projects.
Whether you’re a 6th grade History teacher who’s contemplating a Tinkercad project for the first time, a veteran maker space guru, or a 9th grade ELA teacher looking to add a dimension to your students’ experience, my hope is to provide valuable resources on a regular basis. If you have specific questions about projects or requests for future content in my column, please reach out on Twitter or my website. I’d love to hear from you!
All the best,