Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Jump To 3D Has Begun

Mushrooms - Bob Krause

Forget your assumptions about the upper limits of S.T.E.M. curriculum. The jump to 3D has begun. Scratch and Lego Mindstorms are still relevant, but Tinkercad modeling software, Makerbot printers and Epilog laser cutters are now very much in the picture.

Though the hardware and software tools are coming together, the evolution of classroom 3D is at a stage similar to the introduction of the Macintosh during the PC era, and every bit as exciting. But just as DOS was limited and line-oriented, Google’s free SketchUp software is complicated, cluttered, clunky and in many ways kludgy. Today Autodesk's  Tinkercad provides the best of breed experience for K-12 students, educators and even some professionals. – That is if Autodesk doesn’t mess it up with more bug-riddled updates, mid-day downtime and changes that clutter up the interface.

Printer technologies are evolving rapidly. Yet print times are clocked in hours, hardware breakdowns are common, and only about half of all print jobs are ultimately successful. Still, schools are creating space for printers, scanners and laser cutters and experimenting with curriculum ideas.

Smartphones, tablets, social media and the internet generally has affected the relationships that kids have with technology. To them technology is fashion, it’s entertainment, it’s social, it’s ubiquitous, and its innovation cycle time is shorter than the half-life of an Instagram. More importantly, it’s been all of these things for as long as these kids can remember. Technology, innovation, creativity and expression are fundamental in their world. Perhaps this is why kids immediately grasp the notion of 3D printing when they first see a printer in action while adults are as wide-eyed as my grandparents might have been when first they first experienced black-and-white television. Even if a kid today never imagined that they could design a 3D object, print it and be holding it in their hands within hours, the reality of actually doing so is a more natural experience in comparison.

What are students doing in your 3D classrooms? What tools, hardware and services are you using? Where are you going next?

Friday, December 27, 2013


Skateboards – Bob Krause
My name is Bob Krause. I’m the founder of Inventor Studios. We teach technology-oriented enrichment classes at independent schools in the San Francisco Bay Area. The schools I’m currently teaching our ‘Inventing Reality’ 3D modeling and printing class at are Redwood Day School and Head-Royce School, both in Oakland. Inventor Studios is also producing the Inventing Reality component of Head-Royce’s 2014 Summer Program. 

The TinkerTeacher blog is written by and for instructors teaching 3D modeling and printing to kids in K through 12 and beyond. Okay, kindergarten may be a stretch at this point. But it’s not hard to imagine early Lego enthusiasts and pencil drawing stars navigating around in 3D space and creating simple designs. Yet in my experience and the experience of teachers I’ve spoken to has been that the path to success begins to widen significantly in fifth grade. 

Comment on an existing post or drop a line with an original blog post you’d like added into the mix. We also welcome teachers and students creating and printing 3D objects to share their experiences, their ideas and Thingiverse or Tinkercad links to their classroom-ready designs.