Saturday, June 22, 2019

3D Printing Bubble Wands

About 5 years ago, my school got our first 3D Printer. It was a MakerBot Replicator Mini, and the first thing I ever printed on it was a robot that I found online. Flash forward 5 years, and we now have two 3D Printers - the original MakerBot Mini, and another MakerBot Replicator. I've probably printed about 500+ student projects over the last few years, and I am definitely self-taught! It's taken a lot of patience, perseverance, and growth mindset to get to the comfort level I'm at today... and I am still always learning! So, here's my attempt at sharing my knowledge and hopefully helping anyone who wants to try 3D printing with your students!

I should also mention the fact that it has taken me awhile to feel comfortable printing an entire grade levels' projects...! The first few years, I printed just a few "winners" from each class. Now, I have the confidence to print 100+ student projects! So, I am excited to share the Bubble Wand project I did with 3rd graders because it was so simple and easy to print! (Also, it's not my original idea... I don't know where I first saw it, but I'm not the first person to 3D print bubble wands :-)

Day 1 - 1 hour
- Login to Tinkercad (we used our GAFE accounts and then the students put in a code to join my Tinkercad teacher account... this is how I was able to see and download all of the students' projects)
- Viewed examples of different bubble wands that I found on Google Images/Pinterest and discussed as a class what they thought made a good bubble wand
- Sketched ideas with paper/pencil
- Setup the "stick" part of the wand. Students had to make it 5x5x100mm long. I modeled how to do this in Tinkercad first and then sent them to their laptops to do. 
- After everyone had their base to the wand, I showed them some different examples of how they could decorate it. I allowed them to use the shapes or the scribble tool, but it had to be 5mm tall to match the height of the stick. The only exception to the 5mm height was if they wanted text to stand out on top of the wand. 

This is a video I made for students to watch as well, that shows me modeling the different steps:

Day 2 - 30 minutes
- Class discussion of what a quality design is: Creative, Connected (no gaps/grouped), and Flat (on the workplane). 
- Finish wand design in Tinkercad and make sure it has the correct file name (Name - Wand).

After Day 2, I started printing them all out! Since I was doing all of the printing, I inspected each design before printing it. I made sure that everything was flat on the workplane and connected/grouped.. if it wasn't, I'll be honest, I did fix it. Sometimes the fix was so minimal (moving something a millimeter!), and since it was their first Tinkercad experience, the students gained the knowledge in Tinkercad that I wanted them to have. As we progress into 4th grade next year designing a 3D Printed City, I will talk more about quality designs, troubleshooting and making sure their design works for the 3D printer. 

Day 3 (After all the wands were printed)
Test the bubble wands outside! Discuss what worked well and what could be designed better next time. 

These are some of the questions I got on Instagram.. of course let me know if you have more!

Q - What 3D Printer do you use?
We have two Makerbots... a Mini and a Replicator. I am comfortable with them and like them! I love that I could print 5-6 wands at a time on the larger printer.. it made it go by quicker!

Q - How long did it take for you to print all the wands? How did you manage it?
It took a few weeks.. about 2-3 days per class (we have 5 sections of 3rd grade). If I printed one wand at a time, it took anywhere from 45 minutes - 2 hours, depending on the size and complexity of the design. In terms of managing it... since I made classes in Tinkercad, I used a class list and went class by class. I downloaded all the students' files for one class, and then just set them up in a queue on the desktop to print. I was kind of strategic about which designs I printed when... I always printed more complicated ones or designs I thought might have an issue during the school day, and simpler designs I knew would work over night. After they printed, I put a little bit of blue tape with their name on it. 

Q - How do you teach students the basics of Tinkercad?
The video shows exactly what I showed students to get them started with this project. That's my only goal for 3rd grade; to get them familiar with the tools, workplane, and manipulating shapes. In 4th grade, I have students go through the Tinkercad tutorials and we talk about moving the workplane and truly working in the 3D environment as we construct a 3D Printed City!

Let me know if you have any other questions! Can't wait to see what your students create!

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