With the real prospect of imminent and possibly extended school closures in the UK and school and with closures already in operation in the Republic of Ireland and many other countries affected by the COVID-19, CREATE Education have put together this blog to support teachers and parents who are faced with the prospect of supporting home learning.
Extended time at home for students provides an opportunity for them to develop existing skills or to learn new ones, with many of these skills being vital for future jobs. Students from the age of 7 upwards, can learn about 3D printing and additive manufacturing and develop their own 3D modelling skills easily from a home environment using the large range of free resources and platforms available through CREATE Education and our partners. Here’s how…
A new open-access “Home Learning” Group has been set up on CREATE Connect, our STEAM Educator Collaboration platform. This is available to educators over 18 to share resources and ideas for home learning, ask the community for advice and to support each other. The group will be regularly updated with ideas and links from the CREATE Education team, our community and ambassador network.
You can browse our complete collection of free 3D printing resources for Primary and Secondary education levels, all of which are freely available to download when registered and logged into the CREATE Education website. Many of these resources include tutorials and/or student worksheets which are suitable for home learning. The PowerPoint presentations that accompany many of the resources can be used if live streaming or videoing lessons and the downloaded files can be shared with parents and students.
Specific resources that are particularly useful have been selected and linked to later in his blog in the relevant areas.
Finally, we have a Free 7 Day Trial available for the online PrintLab Classroom Portal, which provides a range of 3D design projects and resources, with video tutorials and student workbooks to support each project.
If students have had no prior experience of 3D printing, the following resources can be used to introduce students to 3D printing and additive manufacturing technology. They are suitable for students aged 7-14.
- Introduction to 3D Printing Video
- If I had a 3D Printer – 3D Design Challenge
For students aged 14 upwards, there are several 3D printing guides available online that will support self study. A good starting point are the following:
Students can also research and learn more about careers in 3D printing using our 3D Printing Careers resources and case studies.
3D Modelling is a perfect skill for students to be learning and mastering whilst at home for extended periods. This is the first part of the 3D printing process (Model-Slice-Print). The advantage of this is that there are a range of 3D modelling software options that are free of charge to schools and students. Many of these are web based and can be easily accessed from home with no downloads needed. Most are also supported with free tutorials that students can use for self study alongside the software. We recommend the following options, depending upon the age and/or previous experience of the students:
Tinkercad is our recommended software option for students aged 7-14. The Tinkercad Classrooms functionality allows you to set up classes of students linked to a teacher account so that you can access and review the students work. Students simply need to login using a nickname that you assign and a class code.
The software is supported by a large repository of self-paced tutorials to allow students to learn the software and then work on a variety of projects. Visit the Learn section to access all the tutorials and projects. We recommend that for students new to the software they work through all the starters, then they complete the “Introduction to Tinkercad” project before moving onto other projects or working on their own designs. The PrintLab Classroom platform also has a wide variety of projects supported by Tinkercad tutorial videos and student workbooks that students could work on independently.
3D Slash is simple and fun introductory software for young students, recommended for 4-9 year olds. You can learn more and access links to tutorials that are suitable for young students to follow on our 3D Slash software page.
BeetleBlocks is an alternative software option for students aged 7-14. It is based on the Scratch blocks programming platform and allows students to create 3D models by coding them. This will allow them to develop and practice their coding skills in the process. Students can get started using the software by following the tutorial in our Algorithm Art Project resource.
Fusion 360 is professional 3D modelling software and our recommended software for adult learners and students aged 13 and over. Educators and students are eligible for free accounts, but will need to register with a named school and students are currently required to upload proof of eligibility. The software is not web based and after registering, the software will need downloading and installing onto a computer.
For students new to Fusion 360, the Emoji Dice Project contains an introductory tutorial and design task to get students started with the software and some of its main tools. The Autodesk Design Academy has a range of design projects supported by video tutorials and the PrintLab Classroom platform also has a wide variety of projects supported by Fusion 360 tutorial videos and student workbooks that students could work on independently.
For schools that find Autodesk Fusion 360 difficult to access, Onshape is another professional 3D modelling software option recommended for adult learners and students aged 13 and over. It is a completely web based platform and accounts are straightforward to set up, this Onshape Blog explains how to get started, set up classes and assign work.The Onshape Learning Centre contains a number of learning pathways, self-paced courses and video tutorials that students can follow to learn the software.
PrintLab have created a short online Designing for 3D Printing Course, suitable for ages 10 upwards in which users will learn about the best practices for designing specifically for 3D printing.
The course is video based and covers the main principles of designing for 3D printing with 10 essential tips to achieving good quality prints on FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication) 3D printers. From overhanging features and bridges to wall thicknesses and tolerances, students will learn some handy tips to help them to produce the best possible 3D designs. At the end of the course is a quiz for students to complete.
Once students have mastered the basic 3D modelling skills by following the various tutorials available to them, the next step would be to set them a 3D modelling project that they can work on independently. The CREATE Education website has lots of ideas for projects, with free supporting resources including the following:
Our Project Ideas Resources provide a series of editable templates and resources which have been developed to support the project based learning approach.
- Project Planning Templates – A series of editable templates for course leaders or teachers to use when planning student projects.
- Presentation Templates – A series of editable PowerPoint slides for course leaders or teachers to use for presenting project stages to groups of students.
- Student Project Worksheets – A series of editable worksheets for individuals or groups of students to use for planning and documenting their projects.
Slicing is the next stage of the 3D printing process that students aged 10 upwards can learn independently supported by the free CREATE Education resources.
First, students will need to download and install the free Cura Slicing Software onto a home computer. The Introduction to Slicing and Cura Lesson provides a presentation and a student worksheet that students can use to explore the software features and functionality.
Students can also access the Learn Cura 3 Video Tutorial Series to develop an understanding of some of the principles of 3D printing and slicing features such as overhangs, build plate adhesion and supports. Please note that Cura version 4 has a slightly updated user interface so some of the features illustrated in the videos are in a slightly different screen position in the new software version.
For more advanced information about the Cura slicing features and settings, students can also access the online Cura Manual.
3D printing is the only part of the 3D printing process that students will not be able to access at home, unless they are fortunate enough to have a 3D printer at home. However students can see the process by watching one of the many Ultimaker Timelapse Videos which show the 3D printers in action (speeded up). Parents who want to invest in 3D printing their children’s designs can send the .STL files of their designs to one of the many online 3D printing service providers.
For students in schools which have 3D printers, their projects can be printed in school upon their return to school. Schools who do not have access to 3D printers can take advantage of CREATE Education’s free 3D Printer Loan Scheme, where they can loan a 3D printer for up to 4 weeks to run a project. This would allow you to run the project remotely and then once the school re-opens 3D print the students work.
Any educators who are using any of the resources highlighted above or other 3D printing resources to facilitate the home learning process, please support each other and share your experiences on CREATE Connect or by emailing the CREATE Education team at firstname.lastname@example.org
Look after yourselves.
The CREATE Education Team