In early 2019, elementary students at our partner school, Big Spring School District, had the opportunity to attend a club to learn engineering design using TinkerCad and to have exposure to 3D printing.  The club met two days a week after school for a period of eight weeks.  The idea came about as a spin-off from activities explored during the school’s weekly Genius Hour. When the Principal at Oak Flat Elementary asked for Questeq’s help to facilitate the club we were eager to get involved.  The club leadership consisted of Mike Fronk, Questeq Infrastructure Engineer, Becky Coulson, Teacher, Mary Hunt, Elementary Education Technologist, and Rob Krepps, Questeq Technology Director.

Oak Flat Elementary Students

During the first week of the club we helped each student create a TinkerCad account and introduced the program’s basic operation and tools.

We learned early on that most of the students wanted to jump ahead with their many ideas for projects.  We challenged them to keep the printing process in mind during the design sessions, as well as cutting complex designs into printable objects so they would lay flat on the TinkerCad Workplane. In addition, they needed to convert millimeters to inches to figure out the size of the object.  The students played an online quiz game to test their knowledge and skills about TinkerCad and to reinforce everything they learned during earlier club meetings.

One of the projects involved designing balloon powered cars.  The students in each team designed a set of wheels and a car body. The winning designs were printed and used to construct the car, with a team designed engine. The students were able to decide where they wanted to attach the engine and how small or large to make the exhaust hole.  In between club sessions, we printed the components and during club time the students assembled the cars, tested, and made changes to the design.  The grand finale for the car design project was a competition to see which car traveled the farthest.

Balloon Powered Cars

Overall the club was a big success.  The students were engaged, had fun, and, most importantly, had the opportunity to learn something new and possibly develop a passion for engineering.

– Robert Krepps, Questeq Technology Director @ Big Spring School District

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