The best way to predict your future is to create it.  -Abraham Lincoln.

Now I know that Abraham Lincoln probably wasn’t thinking about 3D printing when he said this, but I believe it still applies today. With 3D printing as accessible as it is right now, creating should be built into everything that we do, and into every subject. TinkerCad makes this process really easy. It is a FREE online 3D modeling tool that just about anyone can quickly use to model something from basic shapes.

There are a million ways to work 3D print projects into curriculum across all subjects, but for this post, I just wanted to explore a few ideas for Math and Science. So here’s 4 easy ways to get 3D printing into your Math & Science classes with TinkerCad:

Teach Volume

When students learn volume in 7th and 8th grade, they learn how to calculate the volume of all sorts of different shapes. But it can sometimes be a fairly dry activity. The next time that you or a colleague are preparing to teach volume, consider adding a 3D printing component.

After learning about how to calculate volume, students can use TinkerCad to design a series of irregular shapes, calculate the volume of the shapes, and then print them on the 3D printer.

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Extend this activity for students by grouping them into teams, where each student has to design an irregular shape, that when all are combined like a puzzle, will create a cube. 

Model Your State

Every student gets familiar with their own state at some point. Why not create models of the state that students get to actually print too? After looking at or discussing geography of your state with students, take them to create a 3D print of their state, which highlights or identifies in SOME WAY a series of major features or landmarks in the state.

This is made easy in TinkerCad because there are already flat models of all of the US states created by others that you can use with students. Simply task your students with customizing their model to illustrate certain things.

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In this 3D model, a student has begun to add shapes to the map of NYS. You’ll see a mountain range in yellow, large plateau in orange, and series of lakes represented by the grey depressions.

Design a New Insect

Learning about insects is awesome! Kids get to see photographs of all sorts of creepy-crawlers, maybe collect their own and identify them, and more. It’s already a neat topic. But with 3D printing you can take it even further.

After learning about and exploring insects students use TinkerCad to design their own insect. They have to exhibit knowledge of the different parts of the insect in order to create one that is original. After 3D printing the insects, students get to come up with a new name for the bug, describe their habitat, and share with the class!

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After modeling and printing my bug, I can create a story about how and where it lives!

Create your Own Polyhedra

A polyhedron is a 3-dimensional solid whose faces are all polygons. There are tons of different polyhedrons, and also shapes which aren’t classified as polyhedron. To design your own polyhedron, students must learn the difference between face, edge, and vertex.

After discussing & understanding what a polyhedron is, students are tasked with using a TinkerCad to create their own unique polyhedron. The process of printing the shape allows for discussion and evaluation, as they’ll all be different, and all meet the same criteria for being classified as a polyhedron.

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