In the fall of 2015, my 4th graders had the opportunity to explore and create with a MakerBot Desktop 3-D printer. Although we only had it for a month, my students were able to practice designing their own 3-D images through the online 3-D design tool Tinkercad. Students had to choose something to design that represented a favorite book. They could choose something that represented a character in the book, something that showed the setting, or an object that was integral to the plot of the book.
Within Tinkercad, students practiced their engineering skills and developed their spatial reasoning. If they manipulated the size of the object horizontally or vertically, they had to remember to check all angles of their object to see if it still was attached together and looked alright from multiple angles. I took the students’ 3-D designs and uploaded them onto a flashdrive, from which I printed the objects one at a time. To help keep the project going in a timely manner and not spend a ton of filament on one object, I limited the students’ objects to 100 by 100 mm in size.
When the students had their printed object, their next task was to do a digital storytelling project using Google slides. Students recreated a scene from the book they chose with their 3-D object. I had created a class Google Slideshow, giving each student an individual slide and shared with editing rights to the class through Google Classroom. Each student added pictures to their slide to recreate a scene from the book and described using text what was happening during that part of the story. Then students took a picture of their 3-D printed object and inserted it to their slide as one of the pictured objects. When finished, their slide included pictures found online, a picture of their original 3-D-created object, and text retelling that specific part of the story.
Finally, when everyone was finished, each student shared their slide in front of the class and explained a short synopsis of that part of the book and how their 3-D object contributed to the telling of that scene. The students loved the engineering and creativity in designing their 3-D object and creating the scene digitally.