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    Rob's Tinkercad Classroom: I was framed!

    Rob Morrill
    Published on - July 22, 2021 by Rob Morrill


    This frame design project can head towards destinations that are very physical with 3D printing frames, or else very digital with using the Tinkercad iPad app's augmented reality viewer. 


    Teaching Overview:

    The first step is for the teacher to decide on the goals of the project, then see resources below. Students can:

    • design and 3D print frames for mirrors, art, or photos,

    . . . or else

    • create frames with symbolic potential. To help you decide, I discuss some of the possibilities of symbolic frames. 

    Augmented Reality Frames

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    It's really easy to view Tinkercad designs in augmented reality with the iPad app. Take a screen shot or, better yet, use Apple's built-in video recording feature to narrate. See below for more.

    Frames can be created for their interpretive potential. We can think of different people or groups and their frames of reference, how their situation and experiences cause them construct understanding about--to frame--what they see in the world. 

    Here's a quick look at frames in augmented reality with the free iPad app.

    Frame of reference… Frame an idea… Frame of mind… To be in the frame...

    A social studies teacher could have students create frames that symbolize how different historical, cultural, and socioeconomic experiences might frame the way a person sees the world. 

    A literature teacher could ask students to create frames through which different characters in a novel experience the world, or perhaps several frames for one character that show how her perspective, her frame of reference, evolves during the course of the story. 

    Even in science we can think about frames as perspectives on the world. How does our thinking differ when contemplating a microscopic frame of reference vs a geologic frame of reference? 

    We can also think about our own personal frames or frameworks. What people and experiences and situations have contributed to my personal frame, the frame through which I view the world? And how do my frames change from one day or week or season to the next?


    This video walks you through viewing and recording videos with narration of your augmented reality creations. It's free and easy if you have an iPad!

    Printed Frames

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    3D printed frames are more straight-forward. Students exercise creativity, spatial reasoning, and problem solving as they fit frames to their chosen project. Do keep an eye on the size of projects; smaller mirrors and photos will make for quicker-printing frames. See resources below for tips.


    Screen Shot 2021-07-18 at 5.37.52 PM

    Two approaches for making sections of frame. Playing with the spline points and handles of the Extrusion tool creates organic curves.

    Screen Shot 2021-07-18 at 5.39.04 PM

    A frame that's ready to be printed.



    This video provides a walk-through of two approaches to making crown molding style frames. 


    Zoom w F

    Pro tip: if you're working on a larger element and want to inspect a specific spot, add a smaller shape, then, with the shape selected, type the letter F and it will "Fit view to selected shape," zooming you in. 


    sliderIf you miter cut frame pieces at 45 degrees, sizing them to the hole dimensions you need can be tricky. Try using two pieces on each side of the frame and sliding them with the arrow keys to position. (See the video above for details.)


    Reflect and Extend

    • The symbolic frames in AR is itself a very reflective activity, and students can add to that by writing or talking about their class' work as a whole. 
    • Whether 3D printed or AR, frames can add Codeblocks elements to their projects.
    • Students can design and test stands for their frames to rest on. 


    If you enjoyed this column or tried this with students, please share your feedback and creations! What would you like to see more of? What works well? Feel free to contact me on Twitter or my website with your questions, suggestions, or ideas for future content.

    Tags: Inspiration