Tinkercad is a really easy 3D CAD program to learn to use, the software has a simple interface and is based around building up a design by using 3D shapes from the library and combining them (by adding or subtracting shapes) to build your model.
Tinkercad is web based and teachers can set up an account and invite students via a join code. This allows students to access their designs out of school and also to share their designs with the global Tinkercad community.
We recommend Tinkercad for primary schools and initial secondary school projects as it is very easy to get started with, we have even had children in a nursery school in our community using Tinkercad with support. However although simple to learn, this does not limit the scope of the software to produce complex designs, so it can be used for all ages and ability levels. However as part of the Autodesk CAD software suite, it is relatively easy for students to progress from Tinkercad to Autodesk Fusion 360 (or Autodesk Inventor) as their skills and the complexity of their designs develop.
Another benefit of Tinkercad is that it has now evolved to incorporate “circuits” functionality. This allows students to design circuits, program micro-controllers and incorporate the electronics directly into their 3D designs.
There are a number of online resources available to help teachers and students to learn Tinkercad
The Tinkercad website contains a learn section, which has a wealth of tutorials and step-by-step design projects. These are self-paced and students can work their way through these in their own time to learn the software basics and develop their CAD skills. The tutorials are visible on-screen alongside the TinkerCAD design interface making it very easy to follow the tutorials. At the end of each tutorial students will have mastered new skills as well as having a completed 3D model.
Getting Started in TinkerCAD by Bonnie Roskes, 3DVinci, is a step-by-step downloadable tutorial PDF where students design a model boat. This makes a good introductory lesson activity for to Tinkercad as it introduces the interface and all the key functions of the software. The PDF can be printed and students can work individually or in pairs through the tutorial at their own pace.