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3D Modeling and VR: A Low-Barrier Workflow for Engaging Education

Explore and create
Pre-registration required

Explore and create : Workshop

Saturday, June 22, 4:00–5:30 pm
Location: 115C

Clint Carlson  
Learn to provide low-barrier, highly interactive opportunities that allow your students to create their own engaging experiences across subjects and grade levels. Combining Tinkercad and Sketchup, you'll build a 3D city, walk the streets in VR and discuss the vast opportunities for learners.

Audience: Coaches, Teachers, Technology coordinators/facilitators
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: Windows, Android, iOS
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Participant accounts, software and other materials: Participants will need to quickly create accounts on both and This can be done in the workshop itself. No software downloads are necessary. In order to view our creations in VR, only a phone with a web browser is recommended (but not required). I will provide the affordable Google Cardboard headsets.
Focus: Digital age teaching & learning
Topic: Augmented, mixed and virtual realities
Grade level: 6-12
Subject area: STEM/STEAM, Computer science
ISTE Standards: For Coaches:
Digital Age Learning Environments
  • Maintain and manage a variety of digital tools and resources for teacher and student use in technology-rich learning environments.
For Students:
Global Collaborator
  • Students use collaborative technologies to work with others, including peers, experts or community members, to examine issues and problems from multiple viewpoints.
Related exhibitors: Makey Makey , Micro:bit Educational Foundation , MERGE , CoSpaces , Autodesk Tinkercad , MakerBot 3D Printers

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

Research shows engaged students learn best. Play-based projects enable top performers and struggling students alike to be creative in their displays of comprehension and reflection. This workshop will fully enable all participants with a clear workflow to empower their students to build 3D objects of any complexity, collaborate on doing so, and then share their creations with others in class or around the world, including parents.

Through the example of a rise in sea level, we will spark conversation around the potential of VR to advance nearly any lesson plan and wider curriculum. Participants will leave this session with a full understanding of how to make it happen, and more importantly, the mindset to apply this ability in their existing lessons.

Physical science exploring the very small building blocks of our universe. Microscopic structures can be created by individuals or teams, and then enlarged to the size of your school, allowing students to walk bodily though their creation while understanding the scale and relationships within an atom or plant cell.
Re-creation of buildings and monuments around the world to better understand the “why” of their construction. Students may extend this by repairing or improving these structures without constraints of materials or budget.

Electronic Resources Used:
Tinkercad - to quickly build and prototype 3D models of any complexity and work in real-time collaboration.
Co-Spaces - to take these 3D projects and inject them into virtual and augmented reality for inspection and interaction.
Smartphone - to quickly see that most of us already have a 1:1 VR program in our schools with student-owned phones. This workflow harnesses that power for learning.

Past Success
Last year, Digital Design students created a 3D replication of the IICS campus to see what a rising sea level would look like in VR. Students were able to quickly link lessons here to lessons in other courses touching on similar topics of change in our world.
Humanity students have re-examined the role of city planning as they walk down the roads of their collective planning and creation. Students have re-created the Galata Tower and Notre Dame to investigate how existing structures might be improved.


- Examples of what we are doing with 3D modeling and VR in my school (15 minutes)
-- 3D IICS - Students re-created our entire school in Tinkercad and then walked down the halls in VR.
---Students worked in full-class collaboration
--- Established their own norms for scale
--- Built a repository of common objects modeled for each other to use.
--City In The City - Classes created their own section of a city in cardboard, then again in Tinkercad so sections turned into a city.
--- Students were able to walk down the streets of their section and their neighbors’, quickly seeing the importance of city planning (especially when your neighbor puts there sewage treatment plant next to your apartment buildings).
--- The need of politics to make group decisions to agree to when planning all-city projects like park systems and airports.
- Introduction to the workflow - 5 minutes
-- Creation in Tinkercad
--- Migration to Fusion360 for very big projects
-- Export/Import to VR systems
--- Co-Spaces and Google Cardboard
- Tinkercad - 30 minutes
-- Introduction to software (peer to peer interaction) - (15 minutes)
-- How to move around and how to scale simple block objects as our ISTE City (10 minutes)
-- Detailing city and how to collaborate in 3D space with others at your table (15 minutes)
- Co-Spaces - 15 minutes
-- Importing model into Co-Spaces
-- View and share with others
-- Send to VR device (your phone!)
- VR viewing - device-based activity - 20 minutes
-- Anyone with a phone can open their Co-Spaces link, and with one screen press, insert their phone into Google cardboard and walk around their creation.
- Extending - Discussion how else this workshop can apply to content areas and lessons - 30 minutes.
-- Back to the 3D modeling in Tinkercad, we will now create a ocean of water that the city island sits on. Let’s see what happens when the sea level rises 1 foot.
-- What does this look like in VR where our creations can be 1:1 with us on the sidewalks with water over our shoes?
-- Creating a plant cell in TinkerCAD, expanding it to the size of the room and walking around to better observe the relationship of the parts within.
-- Contest - what is the wildest example of a lesson you already have that can be extended by this?
-- How can projects similar to this be used in your school to create cross-subject activities?

Supporting research

There is an explosion of research and articles exploring the potential of VR in education. Understanding the possibilities is one thing, finding doable workflows to make them happen is where this workshop strives to bridge the gap. A few of my favorites not just about VR, but how critical it is that we do this well:
- Reasons to Use Virtual Reality in Education and Training Courses and a Model to Determine When to Use Virtual Reality -
- Improving tech education doesn’t start with tech -
- What the year 2038 will look like -
- New Mediums: Same Mission -

More [+]


Clint Carlson, University of Colorado

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