Customized Board Game Pieces - SCOPES Digital Fabrication

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Raushanah Muhammad


Imagine if you could design your very own game piece for your favorite game like Candyland, Monopoly or Mancala! In this lesson students will customize a small game board piece, then design and build a toy prototype (game piece or action figure) for a specific user using TinkerCAD. The primary objective of this lesson is to introduce students to TinkerCAD. CAD is an acronym that stands for Computer Aided Design. TinkerCAD is a 3D modeling software that can help you design or create anything you can imagine. The lesson follows the steps of the Human-centered design (HCD) process. Students will be able to evaluate how accurately their solution meets the design criteria and be able to communicate their design solution to an intended user (6.MS-ETS). “HCD is an approach to problem solving and innovation that develops solutions by paying close attention to the human perspective (or raises empathy) at every step in the design process.” With HCD empathy for the end-user of the product is very important. If possible try to find within your school community potential end-users. We will use this process model called “Five Phase Design Thinking”


What You'll Need

Laptop/Computer (one per student)

Tinkercad Teacher and Student accounts

3D printer

3D printer filament


Projector (optional)



Original game board pieces from the multiple board games (different colors or shapes)

Checkers piece

Software: TinkerCAD & Cura (or CAM/Slicer for 3D Printer)



The Instructions

Empathize and Activate Student's Background Knowledge

Have students begin with observing a toy designer as a STEM professional and 3D printed items.

Ask students to describe their favorite board game? What do they like/or wish they could change?


Watch career video:


Guiding Questions: (Think-Pair-Share)

Ask: How does science, technology, engineering, art and math influence the design of toys?

How would you apply engineering design and problem-solving methods to the development of inventions and innovations? 

Customize a small board game piece

Show different game pieces? Compare and contrast them. Students will resize, add shapes and rotate objects using TinkerCAD. (Using an example of a checkers game piece) make a flat round game piece no larger than 1 inch (25.4mm) diameter.

Define the Problem- Design for a specific user

After reading a fictional scenario, or researching statistics, student teams can understand the scope and limitations of the problem they are trying to solve - they will identify one problem that they can meaningfully design towards. Answering the following questions: What is the problem that needs to be solved? Who is affected or has the problem that needs to be solved? and why is it important to solve? This problem must be confirmed with the end-users to ensure we are solving the right problem and at the right level.

  • Share a Fact.

Did you know that 1 in 4 adults in the U.S. have a disability? These disabilities range from mobility to cognition, hearing, and vision. With more and more people using assistive technologies and innovative ways to learn, work and play. How can you design a toy that is accessible (source)

  • Share a Story

Kindergarten ABC Company is looking to update their collection of boardgames before Christmas this year (set a timeframe) for their new customers. They are looking for safe and fun gameboard pieces for pre-school aged children with visual impairment or blindness. They need a prototype or example that they could test and evaluate before manufacturing. Students are tasked with designing a prototype using TINKERCAD for the Kindergarten ABC Company. The prototype should have an educational purpose -no weapons. You may work alone or in a team of 2-3 students demonstrating the skill of collaboration. If you work in a team, each team member must be assigned a role and contribute to the completion of the project.

Each student creates a problem statement that identifies the design criteria and constraints of the problem.

Restate the design criteria & constraints: (Ask- what do I need to design? who will use it? why is it helpful? What are some of your limitations?) 

Example: We need to design _______(what) for ____________(who) because ___________(why).



Students should generate as many potential solutions as possible and select those that have the most value and best-fit to people’s actual lives. This may include a sketch or drawing.


Students will use the shapes and templates in TinkerCAD to customize a toy that meets the criteria in the problem statement. The solutions may vary


In the final phase test the prototype against the criteria and if it makes things better for the end user. Record and communicate your results.


  • (MS-ETS1-2): Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.

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