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    Using Tinkercad for Interdisciplinary Project-based Learning (PBL)

    Jennie Fennelle
    Published on - January 26, 2022 by Jennie Fennelle

    Tips & Tricks

    Tinkercad is a great interdisciplinary tool for teaching with a project-based learning framework (PBL), in which students actively learn in a real-world context as they build projects that hold personal meaning. These projects often take place over an extended time frame and involve students asking complex questions, exploring possibilities, and presenting their projects with others. The project itself is central to the unit and requires skills like critical thinking, creative problem solving, collaboration, and communication.


    What is Project-based Learning?

    The Buck Institute for Education, which leads the nonprofit PBLworks, created the “Gold Standard PBL: Seven Essential Project Design Elements,” a research-informed model widely used by educators.

    Buck Institute PBL

    Gold Standard Project Based Learning by PBLWorks is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.


    How can Tinkercad be used for PBL?

    Tinkercad Lesson Plans are written in collaboration with educators to provide fun projects that align to academic standards like ISTE, Common Core, and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Most of our Lesson Plans combine three or more subject areas and include research prompts, opportunities to brainstorm creative solutions to problems, collaboration prompts, reflection prompts, and suggestions for organizing student project presentations. They give you the flexibility to adjust project details according to time available and student interests. (Read more about strategies for using lesson plans as a teaching tool here.)

    Here's one example of how teachers might use the Tinkercad “Design a Flood Solution” Lesson Plan with the PBL framework.

    Flood Lesson Plan Video-1


    In this lesson, students assume the roles of designer, environmental scientist, and urban planner as they explore how and to what degree a community must alter its landscape and lifestyle to adapt to rising seas. The lesson plan is interdisciplinary, addressing the subjects of design, engineering, and science.

    Design Element 1: Challenging Problem or Question

    This involves identifying a meaningful problem and taking steps to answer the question. The lesson plan prompts students to explore questions related to coastline flooding mitigation. They start by watching a video about flooding, thinking about the causes of and damage from flooding, and document researched facts and notes in a graphic organizer.

    Design Element 2: Sustained Inquiry

    Students engage in asking questions, searching for resources, and applying the information they learned. The lesson plan invites students to explore existing solutions to flooding, starting with a list of provided resources. Then, students choose one of the resources, consider thoughtful questions, and describe why the chosen resource was inspiring.

    Design Element 3: Authenticity

    This means the project has real-world relevancy. It addresses personal interests or issues affecting students’ lives. Use the lesson plan to show students a video about using Tinkercad for data visualization. They can then work on creating a 3D map in Tinkercad that visually displays demographics from their own neighborhood or a chosen area.

    Design Element 4: Student Voice & Choice

    This is where students make some decisions around what they’re creating and how they’ll express their solutions from their own perspective. In the lesson plan, students create a digital prototype of their design idea, based on their research and point of view.

    Design Element 5: Reflection

    Students review what they’ve learned, take note of any obstacles they’ve uncovered, and strategies for moving beyond these roadblocks. In the lesson plan, move on to making a physical prototype, using the prompts provided.

    Design Element 6: Critique & Revision

    Students give, receive, and use the feedback to make revisions to their work as needed. In the lesson plan, students refer to the design critique protocol and ask for feedback from their peers. They then make revisions based upon insights gained during the design critique.

    Design Element 7: Public Product

    Students share their project work by explaining or presenting it to others--beyond the classroom if appropriate. In the lesson plan, students are prompted to finalize their revisions and create a final presentation to share their designs with their peers.


    For more tips about using Tinkercad lesson plans with students, visit "Teach with Tinkercad Lesson Plans". How have you used Tinkercad in your PBL classroom? We’d love to hear about your experiences. Drop us a line at