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I am looking for a bit of advice about beginner projects to get kids started with 3D printer designing. This is my first time using a 3D printer. The kids have never experienced it at all or do any designing on computers so, I will be introducing the whole thing.

Can anyone recommend starting with specific introductory topics etc.

I'm looking at writing new schemes for the next school year to incorporate the printer.

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If you are teaching them engineering then I recommend tinkercad.  It's a free website for designing mechical things.

If you are teaching for example history, then maybe start with thingiverse and have them enter lots of search terms related to what they are studying.

For mechanical projects consider having that be homework.  have them look at their bicycle or home or fishing pole.  Look at things in their life and think about how they can be improved.  Have them ask their parents for ideas; what might help them in their work.

Having a goal is incredibly motivating. For example building a mount to connect a flashlight to their handlebars. It's not an easy project. They will need hints about hinges and they can get hints on thingiverse or google. Creating something that will actually be used - that's motivating!

Edited by Guest

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Also important: use a 3D-program of which you can find lots of good training-videos, and that has a relatively low learning curve, feels natural, and still a lot of possibilities. So you can show the kids a video, and let them repeat.

For toddlers it won't be suitable, but for kids of about 10...12 years with some computer experience, DesignSpark Mechanical might also be a good choice. It is legaly free (requires only registration), is a feature limited version of SpaceClaim, and you find lots of good tutorials on Youtube, or elsewhere.

Most of the functions use the same "push and pull" style as SketchUp, so it feels rather natural.

Do not use SketchUp for 3D-printing: it was never designed for that, and has problems creating solid models. It was only designed for creating visual 3D-models of buildings for Google Earth, before Google had a good algorithm to produce those 3D-models from air photos.

Maybe you could try a few programs yourself, and then find a few kids in your neighbourhood, let them try the software, and aks them what they think.

What models to design? Well, ask them what they want. Something small (so it doesn't take ages to print), that they can use in their own life.

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