3D printing in the classroom: brainstorming

Our classroom MakerBot Replicator arrived last May so my students and I barely scratched the surface of 3D printing.  Since then I’ve been brainstorming about 3D printing assignments and projects.  Here’s my list so far.  Keep in mind that most of these will see the light of day in a classroom this fall.  I make no guarantees.

Your ideas and feedback are appreciated.  12 ideas so far…

1. The Big Project- perhaps in pairs or larger groups of students.

  • design a product using 3D modeling tools and print on the MakerBot.  Additional focus is needed here- is it just a consumer product, does it meet a need on campus, in the classroom or in a developing nation?  Who is the audience?
  • create a website to support the marketing and sale of this product.  A social media presence should be part of the package.
  • develop, design and create hard copy materials to promote the product including brochures, logo, posters, swag, letters to potential investors.
  • create a budget related to promotion or development of product.
  • design packaging for the product.

2. Urban/Town Planning: class and individual activity.  Students design and 3D print houses, schools, retail and community buildings that populate a an actual or fictitious plot of land.  Could be combined with social students curriculum around planning (past, present or future?).  Populate the Sketchup designed images on Google Earth.

3. 3D printed Rube Goldberg Machine – each student designs a contribution to a Rube Goldberg machine conceived by the entire class or groups of students.

4. Board game pieces – this could accompany a larger project focused on creating an original game.

5. 3D printed business cards- embossed or cutout letters, logos or even QR codes.  Print them thin and hand ’em out.

6. An action figure – articulated?

7. 3d printed keychain – this is a quick one that can serve as an intro to the joys of 3D printing.  Simple as a 40-60mm radius piece with a raised initial.

8. Custom Lego- design and print your own Lego piece.  Requires measure of existing Lego piece to make sure that new piece adheres to standard.

9. The 3D printed washing machine knob- whenever I describe the potential of 3D printing I trot out a hypothetical about the washing machine repair tech printing out the replacement part in her van.  Or the owner fabricating their own.  Bring in a discarded washing machine front panel with missing knob. Hand out the calipers.  Challenge the student to develop a functional, artful replacement.  It could either match the original or go off on its own theme.  Click here to see the replacement knob that I build for my brother and sister in-laws machine.

10. 123d Catch to “scan” and print a person, building, etc.

11. Make a moving part without assembly- I just pulled this one off in Tinkercad and it WORKED.  It’s a simple axle through two columns and a worthy challenge.  Here’s my second, somewhat successful design via Tinkercad.

12. Last but not least…Design and 3D print your own extraterrestrial- my students get all the credit for this one.  They cooked it up after playing with Sculptris for about three minutes.


2 thoughts on “3D printing in the classroom: brainstorming

  1. This is really interesting! I’d love to know more about your Makerbot experience — I’m considering getting one for the public library where I work. Do you have any caveats ot tips? Any reason you got a Replicator and not an Ultimaker or a Printrbot?

    • Maria- so sorry for the delay. If you are still thinking about a 3d printer pls contact me at rmilstead at gmail dot com. I’d be interested to hear about your experiences as well.

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