3D Modeling in Education
Learning in the area of design and technology and math needs a practical basis;
investigating, evaluating, calculating, designing and doing. While children are familiar with word-processors, spreadsheets and databases, using tabs enables them to encounter
the computer as a 3D design and manufacturing tool as well. It is an easy 3D modeling
for primary and secondary school classrooms and is used widely in both Design
and Technology and Mathematics classes.
It is wise to start designing with something very simple. A first project could
consist of just two shapes, a cuboid and a wedge, to build a farmhouse. Another
idea might be to build a cuboid and a cylinder of similar dimensions and then
compare how much sand they will hold.
FabLab ModelMaker educational software fulfils various functions in STEM
education, and manufacturing the perfect 3D model is
not usually the main objective!
FabLab ModelMaker was not designed for making very sophisticated
models, rather, it is an easy 3D modeling software which has proved accessible to a large number of students.
Students have used this 3D modeling software in a space project to design a
rocket ship, a new box design for Bassetts confectionery, a model of the city
centre in Michigan, the Empire State Building, and many more, with all the
models being printed out as nets and then made into 3D paper models.
Becta, the British Government agency leading the national drive to ensure the effective
and innovative use of technology throughout learning, commented on tabs, the
predecessor to FabLab ModelMaker " The software is perfect for use at Key
2, 3 and 4, it addresses an important area for
teachers wishing to implement Net modeling into their curriculum." This easy 3D modeling software allows pupils to model ideas quickly on the computer.
D. R. Thompson, a teacher at Hounsdown
School, used tabs, the predecessor to FabLab ModelMaker in the classroom and
"This software greatly assists in the
teaching of 2D and 3D concepts. Younger pupils are impressed by the software’s
ability to view in 3D and generate Nets of the shapes. We use tabs at KS3, year
8 & 9 (12 –15 year olds) and also with the GCSE courses at key 4 product
design". One of Mr Thompsons students made this amazing 3D
model of a car using the tabs software.
Cognitive and Practical Skills
FabLab ModelMaker can help to integrate the use
of IT into a wider design or mathematics project. When children use FabLab
ModelMaker to make
a simple 3D design, the process employs and refines a broad range of cognitive
and practical skills such
Thinking about and discussing a design, arguing through problems, exercising oral skills.
Understanding and Interpreting
Interpreting other people’s ideas, verbal or written, to establish potential
Drawing initial ideas and using tabs to experiment with them. Using the mouse
to manipulate 3D shapes on the computer, and making the design, which involves cutting, folding and glueing the chosen material.
Visualising how shapes exist in 3D space in relation to the 2D plan view.
Young children are using tabs very successfully to make simple 3D models from
just one or two 3D shapes; such as
a church building or a tissue box. In the process they become familiar with cuboids and
wedges, they learn about Nets of the shapes and how 3D shapes look when flattened out, and
how folded Nets can be used to make the 3D shape.
Children start to recognise these 3D shapes as being already present in everyday
objects, as for instance, a table is a series of cuboid shapes joined together.
One primary school is using tabs in a home design project. Secondary pupils
bring a greater level of understanding to tabs and produce accordingly more
A design is built using simple geometric shapes which are ‘unfolded’ on the
computer screen and displayed as NETS. The NETS can be moved around on-screen by
the pupil and organised in the optimum way to prevent wastage of the paper or
card when the design is printed out for building.
Some schools use coloring pencils or paints to decorate the model and younger
students have produced some surprisingly innovative work with just a few simple
FabLab ModelMaker provides a medium to help pupils develop skills in designing and building. Children generate ideas for 3D designs, taking into account the end user and the
purpose of what they are designing. They think through and clarify these ideas,
develop criteria and discuss how they are going to set about achieving the final
Children are exposed to real math concepts in a practical way when they are
drawing and manipulating shapes to create 3D objects. Tabs easy 3D modeling
an understanding of geometry as pupils experiment with and manipulate 3D
Some math features of tabs commonly exploited include: Using a grid to
help positioning 3D shapes, adding dimensions, rotating shapes to new angles in the x, y and z axis.
Comparing the perspective and orthographic views and analysing the
orthographic projection including both
the 1st angle and
3rd angle projection.
FabLab ModelMaker develops spatial concepts as pupils manipulate and move shapes and children improve their math vocabulary and concepts by recording and analysing
tabs models, they see how they fit together and how the development of the Nets
of the shapes form solid shapes.
Children arrange Nets by moving and rotating to best fit the paper to be
printed, they can investigate a simple shape by calculating its surface area,
volume, the length of its perimeter. They discover the number of sides, lines of
symmetry, corners, angles, etc.
Whatever the design and however simple or complicated it is, the student will
follow a similar design process, from the initial idea to the finished design.
Manufacturing the perfect model is not usually the objective; tabs easy 3D
modeling software was not
designed for making very sophisticated models, rather, it is a
simple, functional, educational software to provide a taste of how computers and IT are used
to design and make things in the commercial world.
Examples of designs made by the students in various schools include: Hubble
Telescope, Camera & Tripod, Saturn V Rocket, Can Crusher, Pen, Cup, City Scape,
Table & Chair, Razor, and many, many more.
This 3D modeling is fun!