June 18, 2015

Projects, Resources, and More | 3D Printing in the Classroom

As summer kicks off I find myself getting ready for a couple of conferences where I will have the privilege to share what my students and I have been doing in the classroom. The first conference is the Arcadia Innovation Summit on June 24th. The other is the Model Schools Conference in Atlanta, Georgia from June 28th to July 1st. I will be presenting 3 times at the Model Schools conference to crowds of up to 500 people. I didn’t believe that number when I first heard it. I thought it was a typo. I’m am very grateful and excited for these opportunities.

I think I am most excited that other educators are interested in using tools like a 3D printer in their classrooms. I teach the way I do because I believe in it. I believe that it creates an experience for my students where they want to work hard and enjoy working hard while they learn. There is plenty of research that backs up this kind of teaching. It is wonderful that teachers are embracing this pedagogy.

In preparing  for my presentations I have created a handout for participants that lists some project ideas that can be used with 3D printing in the classroom. It also has some books that I have found very useful. In fact, much of my presentation is based around the work in Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom. I also have design software and apps that I use listed on there.

I created the handout thinking it would be a good resource for teachers who are interested in getting started with 3D printing in the classroom. I have pasted the content below if anyone is interested in seeing it. You can also follow the link to the Google Doc.


Project Ideas:

Project Title

Grade Level



Space Tool Challenge by FutureEngineers.org k-12 Science Students compete in FutureEngineers.org’s challenge to make a tool that astronauts on the International Space Station can use.
3D Printed Phases of the Moon 3rd Science Students work together to create a bulletin board diagram that accurately shows why we see the moon in different phases.  3D printing is used to make the models of the moon.
3D Printed Artifacts 3rd Social Studies Students create a newsletter that describes a Native American artifact that they discovered (3D printed).
Sonic Bloom” 3D printed flowers with an LED embedded 3rd Science/Art Students study art from Dan Corson in Seattle, WA. Then design their own miniature “Sonic Bloom”.
Scanned and 3D Printed Artifacts 3rd-5th Social Studies Students partner with local museums to scan artifacts, print them, and research them.
Earbud Holders 3rd-5th Science Students design and print their own earbud holders to help keep their desks and pencil boxes neat.
3D Printed Insects 4th Science Students create a newsletter that describes an insect that they discovered (3D printed).
3D Printed Slot Cars 4th Science Students learn about simple circuits and components by designing, printing, and racing slot cars.
Interactive Whiteboard Marker 4th Science Students create an infrared whiteboard marker that works with interactive whiteboards. The casing for the markers are printed.
Board Games 4th Social Studies Students create board games that teach the players about different topics in California History. Students print the game pieces.
California Mission Circuit Map 4th Science/Social Studies Students create posters that display where the 21 California Missions are located and who founded them. The box that house the switches are 3D printed.
Circuit Robots 4th Science/Art Students paint robots with watercolor, then make a circuit on top of their art using different components.
Noise Level Monitor 4th-5th Science Students make a noise level meter to use in the classroom.
National Landmarks 5th Social Studies Students research and replicate national landmarks. 3D printing can be used to print parts of the landmark.
3D Printed Microscopes 5th Science Students create microscopes that can easily be printed and used in class.



Thingiverse is a universe of things. Download our files and build them with your lasercutter, 3D printer, or CNC.

3D Hubs: Local 3D Printing Services and 3D Printers
3D Hubs is an online 3D printing service platform. It operates a network of 3D printers with over 12,000 locations in 140 countries, providing over 1 billion people access to a 3D printer within 10 miles of their home.

Smithsonian X 3D
The SIx3D viewer offers students the ability to explore some of the Smithsonian’s most treasured objects with a level of control that has never been possible until now. We hope this revolutionary level of access to the Smithsonian collections will spark your students’ curiosity and that the exploration of these objects will enable them to build lifelong observation and critical thinking skills.

NASA 3D Resources
Welcome to the 3D Resources site. Here you’ll find a growing collection of 3D models, textures, and images from inside NASA. All of these resources are free to download and use.

Future Engineers
Future Engineers is an education platform that hosts and develops design challenges for young innovators. We are delighted to host the 3D Printing in Space Challenges powered by the ASME Foundation.

Sylvia’s Super-Awesome Maker Show
Sylvia’s website that gives you project ideas, video tutorials, and ideas on her blog. You can follow along with Sylvia on her adventures traveling around the country and making great projects.

 Design Programs:

123d Design
123D Design is a free, powerful, yet simple 3D creation and editing tool which supports many new 3D printers.

Cubify Invent
Our easiest to use tool for 3D creation. Whether you want to make a friendship bracelet for your best friend or a bird mansion for your feathered friends, Cubify Invent has the tools.

Google Sketchup
SketchUp is hands-down the most intuitive and easy-to-learn 3D drawing tool on the planet. If you want to be productive within a couple of hours, you’ve come to the right place.

Tinkercad is an easy-to-use 3D CAD design tool. Quickly turn your idea into a CAD model for a 3D printer with Tinkercad.

The simplest 3D software. You can draw directly from your browser.

Blender is the free open source 3D content creation suite, available for all major operating systems under the GNU General Public License. Blender was developed as an in-house application by the Dutch animation studio NeoGeo and Not a Number Technologies (NaN). It is a powerful program contains features that are characteristic of high-end 3D software.

Netfabb Studio Basic provides mesh edit, repair and analysis capabilities. Its compact size of only a few megabytes allows a quick download, an easy installation and the handling of STL and slice files within seconds.


Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom
Join the maker movement!There’s a technological and creative revolution underway. Amazing new tools, materials and skills turn us all into makers. Using technology to make, repair or customize the things we need brings engineering, design and computer science to the masses.
The Invent to Learn Guide to 3D Printing in the Classroom
This book is an essential guide for educators interested in bringing the amazing world of 3D printing to their classrooms. Learn about the technology, exciting powerful new design software, and even advice for purchasing your first 3D printer. The real power of the book comes from a variety of teacher-tested step-by-step classroom projects.
Sylvia’s Super Awesome Project Book (Volume 2)
In this super fun book, Sylvia teaches you to understand Arduino microcontroller programming by inventing an adjustable strobe and two digital musical instruments you can play! Along the way, you’ll learn a lot about electronics, coding, science, and engineering.

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