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  • Writer's pictureBonnie Lee

Learning the Concept of 3D Printing through Play Dough

I remember that my teacher, Paul, said this, "with drawing, you have the whole playing field." He means that with drawing, there are no constraints: Anything is possible. We need to give our imagination enough room to hash things out; whatever we do, we need to play with all kinds of ideas.


1 squashed sphere 2 triangular prisms 1 prism 24 cubes 1/2 sphere 1 rectangular prism 3 cylinders

Grade 1 Art Standard 2.3 Demonstrate beginning skill in the manipulation and use of sculptural materials to create form in works of art.

Grade 1 Math Standard 1.G.2:

Compose 3D shapes to create a composite shape, and compose new shapes from the composite shape.

How to teach 3D printing to first graders in a way they could grasp? Knowing myself, I come up with ideas by drawing and making. I'm sure there are other kids who are kinesthetic learners like me. It would be hard for me to be creative while learning a new program. Even though technology makes it really easy to do things, we should not go to it without much thought.

I love that the nature of play dough is temporary. It dries up and crumbles. But the process of manipulating, forming, and thinking never goes away. Just like play dough, ideas are fluid and don't have to be set in stone. If I were placed in front of the computer, I would never have made the creature on above. I learn by doing, handling the play dough, trying different ways of putting the creature together. Later, it will be easier for me to translate the three-dimensional form into the TinkerCad.

I listed the ingredients above to make my creature. It serves as a guideline for students make the building blocks for his/her creature. I will show them how to make each solid and let them explore by playing with size, scale, and putting it all together.

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