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Employ Design Thinking With 3D Printing While Learning to Code

Listen and learn

Listen and learn : Lecture

Monday, June 24, 1:00–2:00 pm
Location: Ballroom B: Level 3 (access from escalators in Registration area in Grand Hall on Level 2)

Jared Mader   Ben Smith  
3D printers open up a learning path allowing students to design, build, communicate and share their own solutions to real-world problems through the lens of content standards. When combined with design thinking, it makes a powerful learning tool. Finally, see how to apply coding to design to visualize code.

Audience: Curriculum/district specialists, Teachers, Library media specialists
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Focus: Digital age teaching & learning
Topic: Maker activities and programs
Grade level: PK-12
Subject area: Career and technical education, STEM/STEAM
ISTE Standards: For Administrators:
Digital Age Learning Culture
  • Provide learner-centered environments equipped with technology and learning resources to meet the individual, diverse needs of all learners.
For Students:
Innovative Designer
  • Students select and use digital tools to plan and manage a design process that considers design constraints and calculated risks.
For Educators:
  • Design authentic learning activities that align with content area standards and use digital tools and resources to maximize active, deep learning.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

We have found that two potential issues in STEM Education that we will address. First, users of 3D printers tend to focus on the printing rather than the design. Students work on projects that more resemble a recipe rather than as an open ended tool that can be used as appropriate. Second, 3D printing is often used in isolated experiences without a connection to other areas of STEM Education such as coding. The purpose of this session is present concrete ideas for using and then applying design thinking in a STEM or Makerspaces curriculum and how to layer 3D printing with coding to give students multiple modes to design.
The primary objective is for attendees to learn how to implement design thinking into the curriculum. Design thinking allows learners to apply their own thinking to new situations and creates success learners. Towards this end, we will provide a template to create lesson plans employing design thinking.
To get users to understand the connection between 3D printing and coding, we will have them engage in You Try! activities. First they will use TinkerCad which uses shape based design to replicate an object. Then they will use BlocksCad to continue the design process. This tool uses block code to design and generate objects. Finally, we will continue to use Blockly to move a robot and thus make the connection between the two media.
We have been using this approach as a part of our makerspace for job-alike groups including superintendents, assistant superintendents, curriculum directors, tech directors, coaches and teachers. Our internal survey data has shown great success with each of these groups to understand the essentials of each tool and the connection among them.


Introduction to Design Thinking (20 minutes)
- Review of the stages associated: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, Test, Reflect and Refine
- Activity: Problems given to participants to engage in first 3 stages: Options include Gift Giving Experience, Morning Routine, or School of the Future

Introducing Design Software (15 minutes)
- Brief introduction to Tinkercad
- Activity: Replicate this! Participants, working in small groups, will be given a shelf bracket and are asked to design it for printing. Files will be submitted for printing. Ideal print time can be less than 20 minutes so they will be finished before the session.

Crowd Sourcing Problem Solutions (25 minutes)
- Look for challenges from your own life that could be fixed. As an example, putting a spoon down while cooking creates a mess. While there are holders for the spoon. What happens if you need multiple spoons. Design a solution and share out your proposal.

Moving from Shapes to Code (20 minutes)
- Brief introduction to BlocksCad which is block based coding software which will output to an STL file
- Activity: Design using code: A snowman with 3 levels and a hat. Export the STL and submit.

Debrief and Closing (10 minutes)
- Discussion on how these ideas can be used and integrated into the curriculum. We will use a Padlet to collect and house ideas. We will share examples of implementations.

Supporting research
Student Teams in Search of Design Thinking
Goldman, S., Kabayadondo, Z., Royalty, A., Carroll, M. & B. Roth. (2014). Student Teams in Search of Design Thinking. In C. Meinel, H.Plattner & L. Leiffer (eds.) Design Thinking Research: Building Innovation Eco-Systems. Springer International, 11-34
Becoming a Design Thinker.
Carroll, M., Britos, L., & S. Goldman. Becoming a Design Thinker. London: Berg Publishers Open University (Publication date: January 2012)

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Jared Mader, Lincoln Intermediate Unit 12
ISTE Certified
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Ben Smith, Lincoln Intermediate Unit 12
ISTE Certified

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