For anyone new to 3d design, Tinkercad is one of the best options out there. This free online design tool is an excellent introduction to creating .stl files that can be saved and imported into your preferred 3d printer slicing software. When I think of the dearth of 3d printing/design thinking resources that could be used in schools, especially in elementary, five or six years ago, it is heartening to see all of the curriculum, tools, and tutorials that have popped up since the days when my colleague and I started using City X with our students. Tinkercad has been a huge contributor of these resources, making it very educator-friendly.
Last November, the Tinkercad blog featured a post on “Design Slams” that has links to curriculum that was developed for 3 different grade bands: preK-5, 6-8, and 9-12. You can use these as starting points to integrate STEAM in your classroom and/or you can choose to enter the #AutodeskMakeItReal contest, also linked in Kellyanne Mahoney’s post. The themes of these units (Make for Everyone, Make it Green, and Make Justice, respectively) all have the common goal of teaching students to think about how they can impact their communities with design thinking.
New to Tinkercad? Don’t forget you can go to the “Learn” button at the top of the site to access tutorials to help you get started.