Turning Point students delve into design with 3D printing

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students displaying 3d designsTurning Point elementary and middle school students are learning how to design objects and use 3D printers to make them.

In the Smith School library, students use a program called BlocksCAD to render three-dimensional objects. The program is named for a coding interface that represents instructions as blocks. Students design 3D models by coding the instructions and creating shapes to be printed. They must use creativity and problem solving to complete their designs.

The activity ties directly to math curriculum involving geometry and 3D shapes. Smith School librarian Geoff Hinman allows students to freely explore and learn through experimentation after learning the fundamentals of the program. This allows students to gain experience from a failed attempt and feel the joy of success.

“With multiple small roadblocks and breakthroughs, 3D modeling gives students a reiterative learning experience that lends itself to mindfulness training,” Mr. Hinman said. “As we go through multiple trials and errors, we can talk about anticipating the emotional challenges that are part of the learning process. Getting frustrated is part of it, and we are learning that patience, tenacity and problem solving are usually followed by tangible rewards. There are a lot of small victories to celebrate with 3D design and printing. We want to carry those feelings of joy and success onto our next learning challenges.”

After completing a design, they are printed by an on-campus 3D printer for the students to keep. Some of the designs have included snowmen and personalized shoelace tags.