Monday, January 9, 2017

Tinkercad and Polar 3D

Creation is Key

Amy Heavin, Principal at Ryan Park Elementary, had a vision. She has been inspired to build a maker-space for the staff and students. She wants to cultivate thinkers and problem solvers. She's building a creative culture within her school. This process started during the 2015-2016 school year as Amy has quite a few fun tools available for her students to try. Kids are programming Spheros, building with Legos, and creating contraptions with Little Bits.

Before this year started, Amy contacted me about another tool she added to her collection; she purchased a Polar 3D. 3D printing has been around for quite some time, but here in more recent years, it has become extremely affordable. She purchased the Polar 3D mainly because it was in her price range and those that had purchased it had pretty good reviews. Ultimately, she was looking to provide students with the experience of being able to create solutions to problems. The Polar 3D provides a good starting point for students to achieve her goals.

I don't have a lot of experience with other models of 3D printers, but this one is fairly easy to set up. They provide video tutorials to walk you through the process and it also works via WiFi. So teachers can see if it is being used via the device's webcam and send print files without having to be in the presence of the Printer.

So is 3D printing merely a fad? I don't think so. Because of 3D printing measurement, area, and volume can come to life. Students can look at a situation where a problem needs to be solved and not rely on a manufacturer to build the parts they need. 3D printing will be the future for us all as we can fabricate the parts we need in the convenience of our home. That's a powerful thought as I look at all the things I want to do in my home in regard to home improvement projects. Things break and wear away. What If I could design my own replacements instead of wondering if the manufacturer still has the part I need available at a decent price?


To create these 3D printer files, Ryan Park Elementary is using Tinkercad. It is easy to use and teachers can create classes to keep track of student progress. They provide quite a few lessons and project starts to get students oriented with the tools. Just like any digital resource, there is a learning curve in order to be able to work efficiently and effectively. Allowing students to "tinker" with it awhile and try some of the lessons first will be beneficial when project time comes. So when you want to propose a problem for the students to solve, Tinkercad will not cause the frustrations and get in the way of completing the project. This should really be the rule with any tech tool. If you throw a brand new tool as students and then expect them to magically create a masterpiece, you will be disappointed and the students will be frustrated. 

Video Resources

Amy asked me to build some resources for her staff, but I'm sharing them here as well. She wanted me to put together some videos to help with the Polar Cloud and Tinkercad process so that her teachers could access them when they are ready to jump into the world of 3D printing. I have a playlist from YouTube setup that goes through how to create your Tinkercad account, get students connected, setup your Polar Cloud account, and how to print STL files (3D print file format). If you are not using a Polar 3D printer but want to get started using Tinkercad, you can still use some of these resources to get you started with creating your classroom account.