Using the 3D printer with curricular areas can be tough to incorporate. When we first started with the 3D printer, we were excited and scared. What if I don’t know how to do all the things? What if the lesson fails and the 3D printer doesn’t work? What if…
I learned that students have a quicker understanding of the process to create designs. Plus, students love to find ways to use the 3D printer with class assignments and love helping others figure out the software.
Quick story: Our culinary arts teacher was looking for ways to utilize the library resources. With the upcoming cookie unit, we developed a process for her students to create cookie cutters based on a theme. The cookie cutters were printed on the library 3D printers and then used in the cookie unit/challenge.
Long Story: Students started the lesson with a brainstorming activity. In groups, students brainstormed a list of themes and possible cookie-cutter designs. Students could choose any theme and design. Once they narrowed to one theme and two possible cookie-cutter options, students created a brief sketch of the designs.
Students entered the library with the brainstorming and sketch sheet. We reviewed the basics of using Tinkercad (free 3D design website), which includes dragging shapes to the workplane, changing dimensions, combining shapes, and creating a hole in the shape. Other 3D printing design tools include Blender and Vectary.
Students were given time to “play” with the website for ten minutes or so. Students practiced dragging and dropping shapes into the workplane and grouping objects.
After students had time to investigate Tinkercad, we focused on tips for creating the cookie cutter.
- Choose what shapes are needed to get the desired results. (A cupcake cookie cutter needs a square and a half circle.)
- Cookie-cutter dimensions are 5 x 5 (127 mm) with a 16 mm height.
- Make sure lines are thin enough to cut through the dough.
- Avoid the scribble tool. It creates lines that are too large.
The above screenshot shows an example of an igloo cookie cutter created in Tinkercad. Students manipulated the shapes to flatten the bottom edge. When students decorated the igloo, they included the lines for the blocks of ice.
Students submitted cookie cutters to an online Google Form with a file upload. I was able to take the files from the Google Form and print them with the 3D printer. The three 3D printers were running the entire school day with each cookie cutter taking 1.5 to 2 hours to print.
Once printed, students sanitized the cookie cutters before using them in the cookie lab.
Interested in trying something similar with your students? Resources are listed below.
Class Libguide for Cookie Cutter Project: We created a web page with resources for students including a step-by-step guide and links.
Creating a Cookie Cutter in Tinkercad: Video demonstrating basic steps to create a cookie cutter in Tinkercad.
Google Form File Upload: A Google support page for how to set up a file upload in a Google Form.
Other Knowledge Quest articles about 3D Printing.
Math and 3D Printing in the Library: A blog post about using the 3D printer in math. Algebra II students worked with the librarians to print roller coasters.
Organizing 3D Printing Projects: A blog post about how to organize 3D printing files especially for assigned projects.
Author: Becca Munson
Becca Munson, Librarian, is a National Board Certified Teacher with over 24 years of experience in education. Becca is the Coordinator for Library Systems in the Blue Valley School District. Previously, she was school librarian at Blue Valley West High School. She opened two buildings in Blue Valley and spent some time as an Ed Tech Specialist before returning to libraries. Becca supports over 45 librarians and support staff as they work to fulfill the mission of flexible scheduling, collaboration, and literacy.