For our week long 2D/3D camp this summer, in the Cuyahoga County Libraries, we wrap up the week by showing the campers how to use Tinkercad. Tinkercad is a free online program where students can learn 3D modeling and build designs for 3D printing. During this part in our program, we also bring in a Makerbot 3D printer to demonstrate the process. On Thursdays and Fridays the campers get a run through on how to use Tinkercad so that they can design something to be printed on a Makerbot.
A Makerbot is a desktop 3D printer that we can easily take from our office to the the libraries. Once a students has made a design on Tinkercad, we save the design as an .stl file and open it up in the Makerbot software. The Makerbot software slices up your 3D model into cross sections that are a fraction of a millimeter in thickness. Since the material the Makerbot extrudes out is so thin it cools instantly and transforms the hot liquid plastic into a solid mass.
The filament used by the Makerbot we have for the camps is PLA plastic. PLA is made from starchy foodstuffs, is decomposable, and is also a thermoplastic. A thermoplastic is a material that becomes malleable above a certain temperature and once it cools down returns to a dense form. The filament is wrapped on a spool and has the thickness of a spaghetti noodle. This spool then attaches to the back of the Makerbot where it is fed through a tube that holds it in place as a motor feeds the filament through an extruder. The extruder is a small nozzle that melts the material. The Makerbot builds up material a fraction of a millimeter at a time. The machine extrudes plastic in cross sections determined by the Makerbot software.
At this camp we challenge campers to think about what 2D is, what 3D is, and how they can go from one to the other. By the time Thursday hits, the campers have made drawings, transformed those drawings into 3D models, taken those 3D models and broken them down into simple shapes to make inflatables. This way when they start working with Tinkercad they are already familiar with the shapes the program has and have a good grasp on how to use those shapes to create a design. The Makerbot is perfect to wrap up the camp because it shows the students how to draw in three dimensions on the computer and then how that drawing can be 3D printed in the real world. This activity lets them use their imagination in a practical way that shows them a new world of possibilities.
For this week’s design challenge, at the University Settlement, we experimented with altering reality through photography. The challenge: create a three image narrative using a prop from the prop box as the inspiration. We showed the students examples of storyboards and comics to demonstrate how to create movement and narrative in a single image.
Once the students had selected their prop/costume they started to create their stories by drawing colorful backgrounds using texture rubbings and crayons. The students then took pictures of their finished backgrounds with iPads. After saving the three drawn images, they were able to get in front of the green screen to act out their stories. Using an app called Color Screen, we were able to select everything in the digital image that was green. The app then deletes the pixels that are green and inserts the drawn image in their place. With this technology, the students were able to act out their narratives with the backdrop of their crayon drawings.
Some of the stories that were thought up included a super hero who saved a town from a fire, a disco dance party, a wizard Olympics, and two hip hop concerts. The campers had a blast imagining their characters, stories, and backgrounds
For our 2D/3D camp we have been giving the campers platonic solids to build shapes out of to assist with the understanding of taking something 2D and transforming it to 3D. Diana and I use the laser cutters at the Larry Sears and Sally Zlotnick Sears think[box] to cut out paper triangles for the lesson.
In its new location, Case Western Reserve University’s think[box] is located in a 7-story building on campus. Three floors are currently being used, and more of the floors will be undergoing renovation soon so that they can be open to the public. It is one of the largest innovations centers in the world that is run through a university and averages 5000 visits every month.
There is a lot of equipment at think[box], including but not limited to, 3D printers, Makerbot 3D printers, soldering stations, vinyl cutter, sewing/embroidery machine, a full metal shop and wood shop, and 4 laser cutters which we have been using to cut the platonic solids out. The laser cutters can run at up to 120 Watts, can etch and cut wood, certain plastic, paper, matt board, leather and even more. When something is etched on the laser cutter it will burn semi-lightly through the surface and when something is cut it is burned all the way through the material to make the cut.
This process can take a long time if you are working large scale or are etching something complex but it is worth it for its phenomenal accuracy and precision. The machine makes our job of cutting the platonic solids go much faster and more accurately than if we cut out 7,000 of them by hand. Think[box] is a wonderful place and is open to the public all year round, check out their website below!
We wrapped up the week at the 2D/3D camp by introducing Tinkercad to the campers, working with glue guns to mimic 3D printers, and bringing in a Makerbot 3D printer to the library to show the campers what their Tinkercad creations would be printed on.
Tinkercad went over really well, even though some frustration had occurred at first. The campers had a lot of fun experimenting with and learning the program. Everyone was able to create something they were excited about and proud of by the end of the last day. Some of the objects they created included, the great pyramids of Egypt, a gorilla, ice cream (in cups and in cones), a claw machine, and a camera!
The glue gun activity was to show the campers a process similar to how a 3D printer works, glue (filament) is melted and then extruded on to the plastic sheet (the build plate) and the a fan cools down the hot glue (filament) layer so a new layer can be applied on top. This really helped the campers grasp how a 3D printer works and they had a blast creating multicolored creations with the hot glue.
Lastly, the Makerbot was a big hit, the campers were ecstatic to watch the 3D printer work. We printed a part Diana had created in Tinkercad, and seeing the machine in person sparked a lot of questions and interests. They wanted to know about the way it worked, how it melted the filament, and the possibilities the 3D printer gave them. Some of the kids even shared stories they had heard about 3D printers as well as some personal experiences.
The first week was a success and gave us a lot of feedback to help make the rest of the camps an even better experience for future campers.