Students will learn about the power of Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) using the free on-line browser-based and cloud-based Tinkercad from Autodesk. They will learn how to combine simple geometric shapes to create objects using geometric unions and intersections. The end goal will be to design a phone holder/clip for the robot that fits the students phone. Each student will individually design a simple part comprised of 3 geometric shapes to create a ‘sleeve’ that holds their phone attached to their robot. Students will also learn about ‘dimensioning’ objects and the use of a vernier caliper to measure objects and translate that to the design.

I will be creating a Tinkercad account for each student before the class starts. For students under 13 years of age, in accordance with the U.S. Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA“) the accounts will point to me ( as an adult guardian which the Terms of Service for Tinkercad allows in a teacher/student scenario. You can read more about Autodesk’s Children’s PrdDivacy Policy here. The way this works is that the account is mostly disabled (other than the tutorial) until the individual owning the e-mail address used as the parent/guardian performs a small ($0.50) credit-card transaction as that proves they are an adult – you can read more about this process here.

Tinkercad is a great application with a very easy to use interface and tutorial. Note that there are other on-line/web-based/cloud-based CAD programs available with free account access (I like to use OnShape and I have used it to model all the robot parts used in this class available publicly here). Your student may realize that they really like to design things!

At the conclusion of this class I can lock/remove the account if the parent so wishes – please let me know if you want me to do this for your student.

One of the benefits of creating an account this way is that it allows me as the guardian to see their work, be able to download the design, and print it for them. Because each one of these objects takes a couple of hours to print on average I will print them before the next session where we learn about 3D printing.



Instructors Notes:

  • Print 3×5 cards for each student with the TinkerCAD URL, their account and their password for quick reference. To make things go smoothly in a large class you may want to pre-login the students before they get there (unless logging in is to be part of your teaching experience)
  • Have a table for the students to fill out with their phone dimensions (WxHxL). Have the dimensions of the three boxes that will be used to create the sleeve in this table so they can calculate them once then refer to the written down numbers when designing the object with TinkerCAD
  • Make sure the computers in the classroom you are using are capable of running TinkerCAD and that the site is not blocked before the class beings. TinkerCAD requires WebGL which all modern computers should have, although classroom computers are very typically old and/or running out-of-date software.