3D technology has become a highly valuable subject in schools. Its usefulness spans many different subjects, engages students through hands-on, active learning and provides them with skills that could turn into careers. (See our previous feature of 5th grade designers from Kansas; pictured above)

The COVID-19 pandemic has closed schools all over the world and left teachers with the challenge of providing home-bound students with productive education programs. Thankfully, there are online resources that teach 3D printing skills through distant learning and are especially geared towards students. These programs are perfect for teachers (and parents) looking for fun and educational programs during this time.

Don’t have access to a 3D printer through your community? Shapeways can print and ship to 130 countries worldwide, so your students can continue to create while practicing social distancing at home.

Ready to get started? Here are seven online resources, categorized by target age group, to help your students explore the power of 3D technology:

Activities for Pre-High School Students

Grades K-8: Makers Empire 3D Design App and Challenges

Australian-based Edtech company Makers Empire facilitates learning 3D technology for teaching STEM, Design Thinking and Project Based Learning to grades K-8. The Makers Empire 3D Modeling app is specifically geared towards this age range so that kids can continue learning at home during quarantine. They also released a series of design challenges like the Handshake Alternative and Cough Catcher to help students get creative in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

3D modeling in Tinkercad

Activities for 5th Graders and Above

Grades 5-12: Tinkercad – 3D CAD Design Tool

Tinkercad is a free 3D modeling program suited for students in grades 5-12 and beginners of any age beyond. It is used in a web browser and provides learning and teaching support depending on the user. People of all levels can also upload their design to share or tinker with someone else’s design. You can upload Tinkercad designs directly to Shapeways to print.

Activities for All Ages

Morphi 3D Modeling Tablet App

Morphi is another software that is easy to learn and caters to students of all levels. Their website provides tutorial videos for teachers and curriculum development for grades K-12. In the wake of the Corona pandemic they launched Morphi Design School, which consists of a series of video tutorials, a full handbook detailing each tool, and 3D modeling projects.

Leopoly 3D Creation Platform

Leopoly offers a browser-based program for beginners that allows you to start your own design from scratch, upload a previous design of your own or customize existing designs in their community library. The program offers three different ways of getting started from scratch, including Digital Sculpting, Formshifting and Cubecraft.

SketchUp for Schools

SketchUp for Schools is browser based so that students can access it from home. It provides curriculums and projects for different subjects including modeling a cell for Science class, building a set for Theater or a birdhouse for Shop Class. It also features a number of basic and introductory projects for those just getting started.

3D model of the Hubble Space Telescope. Photo source: NASA 3D Resources

NASA’s Printable Models

NASA’s 3D resources website currently hosts 105 printable models for students to download and print as visual learning tools. Models include the Hubble telescope, satellites, landing sites and more. Having access to physical models helps engage students more effectively than 2D images. Those who don’t have access to a 3D printer can print with Shapeways.

The Edgerton Center MIT – 3D Modeling Instructables

Instructables has a whole section devoted to 3D printing and features projects for all skill levels. The MIT Edgerton Center’s Instructables page in particular provides different 3D modeling activities for students grades K-12 with Tinkercad. Their website provides helpful resources for educators including tutorials, workshops and a newsletter. They also feature an Idea Gallery where other teachers have shared their projects.

Help your students bring their new 3D creations to life by printing with Shapeways!