This week I worked with staff and students at Gilmore City-Bradgate Elementary on 3D printing. In planning for my time with the first and second graders I knew that the tools I had been utilizing with middle and high school groups; Tinkercad, Sketch-up and various other design apps, would be difficult entry points for the younger students. Plus, each student had an iPad, so I set out to find an app that would allow for them to easily create and transfer to the printer. I found one in Cubify Draw.
This app allows students to draw a 2D shape with their finger… (the catch is you have to completely draw the shape without lifting your finger off the screen)
…and then make it 3D by simply hitting a button which adds depth to the 2D shape.When they’re done with their object all they have to do is hit 3D print and they have the option to email it in a format that is compatible with the 3D printer.
Here’s the letter R that one of the students created during our time together. (If I had been smart at the time I would have had him take a screenshot for the before and after effect.)
This app makes the technology, creating 3D shapes and printing them, invisible. Instead of focusing on the skills necessary to create the object we can shift our focus to what we’re asking students to do with this technology. For instance, in this student’s classroom they have an aquarium with crabs. The crabs are real escape artists. Now the challenge will be given to the students to create an accessory for the aquarium to keep the crabs from escaping. They’ll have to enter into the design process/engineering cycle, collect data and evidence of how the crabs are getting out, and employ 21st century skills as they design a solution. As we work with technology this is what we should be looking for, a tool that becomes invisible in light of the task or challenge that it enables.