STEMpower

CAD in and out the Classroom

The evolution of CAD (or computer-aided design) programs has been in progress for over 50 years (Cohn, 2010). While, for the bulk of this time, the availability of CAD was restricted to industry or to postsecondary schools, its implementation is now seeing the inside of elementary and middle school classrooms. Through Google SketchUp, a free modeling software that allows its users to explore 3D designs, now teachers can invite their students into a CAD learning experience. Through the use of CAD, students are able to design and manipulate their own creations, paving the way for learning about new geometric concepts while having fun!

Integrating technology into the classroom is increasingly becoming a must if teachers want to provide students with a full, robust education. Because of the widespread availability of software like Google’s SketchUp, potentially anyone can learn about the benefits of using CAD programs over traditional design processes. By offering this software to students, teachers have the opportunity to transform the classroom from what students could typically learn from drawings into a real 3D experience.

What is unique about SketchUp is that it allows the users to insert components that have been previously authored. The component definition “provides a blueprint for how all components of a specific type appear and behave in the drawing area” (SketchUp Make and SketchUp Pro, 2016). Further, when a component is inserted into a model, a component instance is created, which is derived from its definition. No pun intended, this is an outstanding component that separates SketchUp from other modeling software. Additionally, students can learn about constrained values, repetitive elements, configurable values, and animated features. Also specific to SketchUp is the possibility of organizing complex geometric models with groups or layers. This is also offered alongside the geolocation feature that allows the model to be placed anywhere on Earth. How unique!

Right now, PCS Edventures is offering an entire “Discover SketchUp” set for educators interested in introducing students to 3D modeling programs that include applications like architecture, interior design, civil and mechanical engineering, and even film and video game design. Included in this package are the Discover SketchUp LABCards (4 levels) with 5 cards for each level; it is designed for students in grades 4 through 8.

Currently, PCS is in the process of developing a CAD Camp as an afterschool or supplementary educational program, which is set to begin this month. In earlier posts, I have detailed the great benefits of student participation in camps, as they allow for both personal and educational growth. Consider enrolling your child or student in this enriching experience!

References

Cohn, D. (2010, December 1). Evolution of computer-aided design. Retrieved January 7, 2016, from http://www.deskeng.com/de/evolution-of-computer-aided-design/

SketUp Make and SketchUp Pro. (2016). Adding premade components and dynamic components. Retrieved January 8, 2016, from https://help.sketchup.com/en/article/3000118