Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Technology Tuesday: Decade Research and 3D Coins

You know those crazy ideas that come to you in the middle of the night?  The ones that wake you up and then you can't go back to sleep because you are thinking about them?  Well, that is how this research product came about and boy was it fun.  I have just recently received a 3D printer and have been trying to figure out meaningful ways to use it with classrooms.  I woke up in the middle of the night one night after talking with a 5th grade teacher about the decade research made into an iMovie product that we have done for the last few years.  I also had 3D printing on my mind and I guess the two things just blended together and "Voila" the Decade Commemorative Coin was born.

The next day, I talked with the 5th grade teacher and explained my idea.  Students would do a decade "exploration" where they listed important events, people, inventions, famous firsts, ect from the decade and then choose one of those things to research more in depth and create an image on the top of a "coin" to represent the decade. Now this is the teacher that I have written about before (see this post).  She is slowly becoming more comfortable with technology, but I knew as long as we were in it together she would be on board.  I told her about the tinkercad website and that it was easy to use, but that I really had no idea what the students would come up with or be able to design (just keepin' it real).  Well, we were totally surprised by the creativity and outcome the students produced!

We spent one day doing the decade exploration using books that I borrowed from the middle schools. The next two days, the students chose their specific idea they would research more thoroughly using books, Britannica online and other websites that I had listed on my library webpage.

Then the fun part... I pulled them all together on the 4th day and briefly explained how tinkercad worked.  We were using chromebooks, so the students were able to loging to tinkercad with their google account.  I gave them the specifications of how big and think t make the coin and showed them how to group object and layer them on top of the coin. I also had them name their designs with their first name and the object and make it public so that I could find them and then print when they were finished.  We talked about the different shapes they could use and how they design couldn't be too detailed because of the small space we were working with.  

Then they set to work... As with any project, some students grasped using tinkercad right away and some needed a little more assistance but over all we were super pleased with their finished coins.  I was shocked at how detailed some of the students were able to get their coins and the things they figured out without me telling them. 

My filament is white, so I knew we were going to want to color them somehow.  We tested a few things and found that colored pencils worked best until I accidently ordered a different filament when I was getting low and then Sharpies worked better (see this post about things I learned).

Each coin took about an hour to print so as I finished a couple, I would take them down to the class where they waited anxiously to see if it was theirs'.  They colored the coin and wrote a little bit about the event pictured.


After printing the first couple, I realized that I was going to have to go in to each design and make sure they had layered properly and there were not spaces between the layers, layers coming through the bottom of the coin, or that the layers were not too tall.  That part was a little time consuming, but well worth it to the see the results.

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