Kinetic Art Sculptures Using Our Makerbot Replicator 2

kinetic sculpturesOur art teacher, art student teacher, and I have been having a blast with 3rd graders designing kinetic sculptures.  About 2 weeks ago, students came to the library during art to learn about Tinkercad and how artists use technology to create.  Before this lesson, they watched a Tinkercad tutorial.  In small groups, they designed an object for 3D printing.  Whatever they designed would become one piece of a larger kinetic sculpture in art.  You can read more about that experience here.  

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Once students finished their design, I went into each account and tried to double check that the designs were all pushed together into one piece art.  Then, I downloaded the .stl file into Makerware.  In Makerware, I resized the object to a smaller size to speed up the printing process.  I also added a raft (removeable base) and supports to each print.  I’ve found that in Tinkercad these 2 steps are needed because what you see on the computer screen might actually be misleading.  The raft and supports help the 3D print be more stable.  All files were loaded onto the SD card prior to students arriving.

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Ms. Foretich, art teacher, created a printing schedule with about 60-90 minutes between prints.  During each time frame, students came to the library and chose their filament color.  Then, I shared some information about the 3D printer since it was the 1st 3D print for most students.  Finally, we pulled up the file on the SD card and a student pressed the M.  Students sat in chairs or huddled around the printer to watch.  After watching the print for a few minutes, students went back to their regular day while the print finished.  I kept an eye on each print during and between my lessons.

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Each printing experience was different and you really never know what is going to happen when you press that red M.  Many times the print is a big success, but sometimes it’s not.  We’ve had some failures, which are very important.  We save every failed print we have and put it in a box.  It reminds us that we aren’t perfect, but it also serves as an instructional tool to talk to students about what didn’t work.  We learn from our failures and a box full of failure speaks volumes to all of the students who are starting their 3D printing process.

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When a print fails, we go back into the design and look at what needs to happen.  Sometimes it’s as simple as pushing some pieces together more than they were.  However, sometimes it’s a big flaw that cause students to just start over.  It certainly slows the process down, but it is important for them to revisit their work, revise, and try again.

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It’s always fun to see which students are motivated by the concept of 3D printing.  Sometimes the students make surprising choices like giving up their recess time to spend that time watching the 3D printer create.  Hearing their “wows” and “cools” is inspiring.

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Students are continuing to print their pieces this week and next.  In the meantime, they are continuing to work on their kinetic sculptures in art knowing that their 3D printed object will also be a part of their design.

 

3rd Grade Kinetic Sculptures with Tinkercad, Makerbot, Collaboration, and Imagination

Tinker Ramsey (12)As soon as we received our new Makerbot Replicator, Rita Foretich, our art teacher, began brainstorming ideas with me about how this tool could support the standards that she teaches our students in art.  Rita is a great collaborator.  She weaves in standards from students’ classroom curriculum into her art standards.  Often, these projects involve the media center as well.

Currently, Rita and her student teacher are exploring kinetic sculptures with students.  In art, they have spent time tinkering with a variety of materials that they might use to make a larger, movable sculpture.

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Tinkering in art

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A piece of these sculptures that students will create will be designed using Tinkercad and printed on our Makerbot Replicator 3D printer.  We scheduled a session in the library to work on the Tinkercad design.  Working in the media center allowed us to have plenty of room to spread out as well as maximize adult support.  During each lesson, there were 3-4 adults (media specialist, art teacher, student teacher, and tech integration) to support students as they had questions.  Of course, we encourage students to support one another, but it is nice to have adults supporting students as well with problem solving and collaborating.  Also, to maximize our time in the media center, students did some flipped learning by watching this Tinkercad tutorial in advance at the closing of their last time in art.

Here’s what our time in the media center looked like:

1.  Students met on the carpet for a quick reminder of our plan for the day.  Mrs. Foretich gave them the standards we would work on:  Creating sculpture using a variety of forms and working in teams.  She also showed them how artists use technology to create their art as well as some images from the 3Dprintshow site.

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A quick intro to how artists use technology to create

2.  Students were organized into 5 collaborative groups.  Each group had a Lenovo Thinkpad computer with a mouse.  Tinkercad was already pulled up on the computer and each group had a username and password to use.

Tinker Ramsey (9)3.  Students brainstormed their concept for a piece to add to their kinetic sculpture and took turns controlling the mouse.  Adults guided students through problem solving and working together.  As students had ideas for their designs, adults helped them think through their ideas and take risks to try to get their idea onto the drawing board.

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Students quickly learned how to work together to problem solve

4.  Students named their file before leaving.

5.  I took student files and saved them as an STL file, imported those files into Makerware, and saved the file for 3D printing on the Makerbot.

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We will repeat this process with all three 3rd grade classes.  Students will continue to work on the rest of their kinetic sculptures in art.  Mrs. Fortetich will create a schedule with me in the media center for students to come and 3D print their designs.  We want each student to have the experience of pressing the red M on the 3D printer and watching their design magically appear on the build platform.  Although all students probably won’t be able to stay from start to finish during the printing process, they will at least activate the print and see the beginnings.

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As always, I was amazed by what students figured out in such a short time.  One group really wanted to put holes in the top of the smoke stacks on a boat they were making.  They tried several different things and never once got frustrated.  I was fortunate enough to be with them at that moment of exploration and encouraged them to keep trying.  After several attempts, they figured out how to put one cylinder inside another and make the inside cylinder a hole.  It looks great in Tinkercad, so we’ll see how it translates to 3D printing.  These same types of conversations were happening in every group.

Deep in thought

Deep in thought

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Ship with holes in the smoke stack

I also loved that we did not tell students what they had to create.  The only guideline was that students work together to create something for their larger kinetic sculpture.  Every group created something totally different from a block filled with words to a barn to a ship.

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As usual, we are always crunched for time in school.  This was a great first pass at using Tinkercad with an entire grade level.  I’m hopeful that in the future we will figure out ways to increase the amount of time that students get to spend on their designs.