Wednesday, February 14, 2018

3D Printed Architecture

The blogging community is a wonderful source for ideas. It's one of the reasons I started blogging in the first place. Through reading blogs, I found many ideas that I adapted to teach in my classroom. I started the blog as a way to share my students' work as well as a way to return the favor in terms of putting new ideas out there. 

It's rare, but I've found myself in a position that I haven't been in before in my teaching career. Having a 3D printer in the classroom is still pretty uncommon. Having a 3D printer in the art room is apparently far more uncommon. 

When I first started using the 3D printer with my 4th and 5th grade students last year, I was also new to the technology. I wanted to use the project to see what students were capable of and how they would adapt to creating art in an entirely new way. Essentially, I allowed students to make pretty much any original creation they wanted. There were some absolutely beautiful designs, but there were many students who didn't do well with complete freedom and wound up never really grabbing onto a solid idea. 

I knew that for year two of using the 3D printer, I wanted to come up with a lesson that provided a solid framework while still allowing for plenty of creative freedom. This is when I found that this kind of technology is still in its infancy in the art room. There are "lesson plans" around that use 3D printing, but most were either far too simple, far too complex, or didn't connect to my curriculum in any way. I chose instead to start from scratch. 

For 5th grade, I chose to take something that several students had been successful with last year- buildings. I came across a 3D printed city as I was looking for examples of printed architecture. 
San Francisco 3D model by Steelblue. 
My students studied various styles of architecture and came up with the types of structures found in towns and cities. Each student designed their own building on paper before moving on to work digitally. I have used an online program called Tinkercad both years I've worked with 3D printing, and I've found that it's very user friendly. 

I have five 5th grade classes and I'm currently finished printing the work from three of them. The 3D printer is constantly running this time of year because each building takes 2-3 hours to print. I'm so excited for the finished city that I went out and bought some black foam core board and tested out a layout with about 50 of the buildings that have been printed. The finished city will be presented at the art show in April and I can't wait to see how it turns out!