Design – 3D Modeling:

“3D Printing: It can change the whole paradigm of how our children will see innovation and manufacturing in America” – Bre Pettis, MakerBot CEO

We’ve had our MakerBot Replicator II for five years now. We received it for free thanks to a grant from MakerBot and DonorsChoose. Since then, we’ve acquired two more – a Polar3D and New Matter Modt. We use them as an integral part of the grade five and six art curriculum for three project based learning units – GameMakers, Castle for a Friend, and Imaginary City. We use the 3D printers to make game pieces, castles with classic and empathic architectural elements, and city buildings and bridges.

3D printed game pieces
3D printed Castle for a Friend (with shrimp truck pulling up to make a delivery)

As I often say to my students, 3D printers are like desktop inkjet printers in that they do what they are intended to with little fanfare. The magic is in the design – 3D modeling. We use the Morphi Edu app for designing models in my classes. We are a 1:1 school with iPads and the app works quite well on them. We have used the free online version of Tinkered as well, but I prefer Morphi Edu app because WiFi is not needed until it’s time to share the file.

To introduce 3D modeling I show the kids the basic tools and forms in the app, the adjustment sliders for scale, rotation, aspect, etc, and the drawing tool, one of the most indispensable tools in Morphi. Every student is asked to create a simple model on the theme of snow or winter (themes help in middle school). And although the directive is clearly stated as snow and winter,  I am always surprised to see the large amount of holiday creations specific to Christmas. Here are some of this year’s models:

Looking at all these winter and holiday images reminds me, this is my last post of 2018 and so I would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and/or Happy New Year! See you next year!


  1. Wow, these are awesome. I come from a very limited digital/3d design background, however, I’d love to learn more about these platforms and ways to integrate them into the curriculum like you have done brilliantly here! Are there any resources that are essential starting points?

    Thanks for sharing this inspiring process and the resulting masterpieces! Happy new year to you as well!

    • Thanks Adam! These projects are all on done on iPads with the Morphi app. The app is available in other platforms as well. MakerBot has some good educational resources for 3D printing (which I have contributed to) as well as certification options. Check those out…

      • Thank you, I’ll check out the Morphi app. I am pretty new to the iPad, but definitely want to incorporate it in the classroom. Thanks again for the resources to get me on my way!

Leave a Reply