Students at Cork Educate Together Secondary School (CETSS) participating in a 10-week module in Art, Craft and Design exploring the theme of¬†Metamorphosis integrated this theme into a unique¬†3-D printing project. In this project, students were given the freedom to create a 3D design based on their ideas for metamorphosis. Each of the¬†students worked on an iPad Air 2 and were new to 3D printing, so students explored three different design programmes; Tinkercad, 123D Design and Gravity Sketch. In this case study, Art teacher Dawn O’Sullivan shares their¬†experiences of the project.

Project Aims

  • To give students an introduction to 3-D printing.
  • To integrate ideas from our First year Art module.
  • To build student confidence in designing for 3-D printing
  • To allow each student to design and create a piece that will be 3-D printed.

Learning Objectives

  • Integrate concepts from Art in order to create an interesting and individual 3-D design.
  • Give students the practical skills to learn 3-D design platforms and applications such as Gravity Sketch, Tinkercad and 123D Design.
  • Produce and print a finished 3-D design
  • Work as part of a team to learn the design programmes and applications.
  • Give students the freedom to choose a programme/app that best fits their individual learning needs.

About the Project

As part of their 10-week module in Art students were responding to and developing concepts around the theme Metamorphosis. We decided to link this project with our 3D printing project in order for students to design pieces that would show an individual creative response.

The first step for our students was to discuss the process of 3D printing and show some examples of projects from the CREATE Education website. Students discussed the possible ways of approaching the project and the idea of linking it to their Art project.

They decided that, as it was their first time using the 3D printer, they would like to each print a small individual piece. After this some students used the app sketchbook to explore possible 3D designs.

The next step was allowing students to explore the design programmes TinkerCAD and 123Design. A few of the students chose to use Sketchup from their own computers at home but this programme was not compatible with the iPad Air 2, which is used by the students in our school.

Initially when the students were introduced to TinkerCAD and 123Design there were mixed responses. Some students really took to them while others struggled with functionality and found it difficult to control the positioning and sizing of the shapes when using them on an iPad.

Many of our students were looking for an alternative to the ‚Äėdrag and drop‚Äô approach that they experienced in TinkerCAD and 123Design. They were asking if they could draw their designs and after being given great support from Sarah Jones and Sonya Horton (CREATE Education Project) the students worked with an app called Gravity Sketch. This was a major breakthrough as it allowed for an alternative way to design for 3D printing. Students were given the freedom to use any design programme/app that they felt best met their individual needs.

Peer mentoring was one of the major steps in the process. Once students were given a basic tutorial, they quickly learned much more advanced technical skills. They shared these skills with each other and it was great to see how quickly they progressed as a result. 

Student Designs

Each student created a design that showed an individual creative response to the theme. Some created 3D structures that had been transformed in some way e.g. a wall with every second block removed, some represented themselves as an animal e.g. the hedgefox on a book (student asked a friend what animal would represent her and they replied, “a mix between a hedgehog and a fox”, whilst others were inspired by nature e.g. flowers, trees and butterflies.

The students have gained an invaluable insight into the process of creating and completing a design for 3D printing as well as developing their approach to problem solving. 

Hedgefox on a Book Design

Nature Inspired Designs

Next Steps

Students are really excited about the possibility of using the 3D printer for future projects. Now that they have had some experience using the printer and designing for 3D printing these are examples of projects that they would like to develop going forward:

  • Printing a map of an area in Cork that follows the gradient of the land. This would allow people who are visually impaired to feel the contours of the land. This would be a great cross-curricular between Art, Geography and History.
  • Designing and Printing their favourite buildings. Some students have already looked into this and it would be very exciting to develop designs based on interesting structures. This project could incorporate elements of Technical drawing, Technology, History and Geography.
  • Designing and printing mobile phone covers and other useful objects.

The CREATE Education Project would like to thank Dawn O’Sullivan and the students at CETSS for sharing their experiences and metamorphosis designs.

In The Classroom

This is a perfect project for incorporating 3D printing technology into an art project, students could create 3D printed sculpture around any topic or theme. The free Gravity Sketch iPad app is perfectly suited to this project as it allows students to easily creating artistic models by freehand drawing and it has a simple interface which is quick and easy to learn. An alternative desktop software option for 3D art projects is Sculptris, this software is a free download, however it has a more complicated interface and would require more time for students to familiarise themselves with the interface and develop their 3D modelling skills.

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