DIY Lego Accessories – SCOPES-DF

Lesson Details

Age Ranges
Fab Tools

You need to login or register to bookmark/favorite this content.


Fab Foundation
Fab Foundation
Our mission is to provide access to the tools, the knowledge and the financial means to educate, innovate and invent using technology and digital fabrication to allow anyone to make (almost) anything, and thereby creating opportunities to improve lives and… Read More


The goal of this lesson is to use the design process to create accessories compatible with LEGO minifigures. The advantage of this lesson is that the objects can be modeled and printed quickly. At the end of the lesson, students will have their 3D printed accessory. Given the small size of the modeled objects, it is quite possible to do several iterations during the allotted class time.

What You'll Need

Materials List

  • 3D Printing Filament
  • Rulers/Calipers
  • Design journals

Digital Fabrication Tools

3D Printer


The Instructions

Step One: Introduction and presentation of 3D printing – 15 mins

TEACHER NOTE: The teacher will run through the entire 3D modeling process to demonstrate the software TinkerCAD. Students watch while the teacher describes what they are doing. The teacher asks participants to follow along, up until the 3D printing step. After launching the 3D print of the demo model, students create their own 3D model.

In whole class, Introduce 3D printing with a video and presentation of your local equipment.

Recommended by Techno Culture Club: PBS Off the Book:

Future Engineers: Coursera – 3D printing at Fab Lab Champaign Urbana IL (start at 4:22): un-at-the-fab-lab

Step 2: Overview of the activity – 5 min

Briefly explain the flow of steps for the day’s activity. What will the participants do? : Create an accessory for a LEGO minifigure. Explain the Design Process:

  • Think about the problem
  • Generate Ideas
  • Identify possible solutions
  • Develop ideas into a prototype
  • Create the solution using 3D printing

Step Three: Log in each participant to the software TinkerCAD – 5 min

Log in each participant to the software TinkerCAD. Use a single account per class or teacher or school.

Ask each participant to log into the software TinkerCAD. Provide the username and password.

Step Four: Introduction to TinkerCAD – 15 min

 TEACHER NOTE: In whole class exercise provide definitions and review of TinkerCAD key concepts to show students

  • The workplane
  • Zoom in/out (scroll)
  • Rotation of the viewpoint (right-click and move mouse)
  • Reset the viewpoint (“Home view” button)
  • Pan view (hold shift + right-click, and move mouse)
  • Sidebar with various parts and how to place them on the workplane
  • The geometric primitives (“Basic Shapes” tab) available in the sidebar
  • The solid vs hole state of a shape Selecting an object (left-click)
  • Selecting multiple objects (hold shift + left-click)
  • Using a selection box (hold left-click and move mouse, release left-click)
  • Group/ungroup multiple objects (adding/subtracting)
  • Handles for scaling and translating objects

Place students into small groups of 3-4. Using “Put Your Two Cents In” strategy, each student take turns explaining a concept by putting one cent in the center of the table and sharing a definition. Once everyone has had a turn, students put one more cent in and respond to what other students in group have shared.

Step Five: Document Your Prototype

 Have students draw and finalize their LEGO accessory design. Students record the results of their prototyping process in their journals. Remind students that the prototype is not their final design.

In small groups, students share their LEGO accessory prototypes with other students. The teacher moves around the room to assist and re-explain concepts as necessary. Review common questions or repeat challenging concepts to all students.

Formative Assessment: Students record their prototyping process in their journals.

Make sure students include:

  • Features added following student group
  • Sketches of their
  • Notes from student feedback
  • How feedback resulted in updates to LEGO accessory prototype

Extension: Have students hack an existing LEGO minifig, adding accessories or traits of famous engineers, scientists or other personal heros. For example, Fabbers from MIT Media Lab created this mini fig persona of Seymour Papert!

“Logo Turtle with Seymour Papert Lego MiniFig” kindness of Christopher Sweeney – Susan Klimczak FabLearn Fellow Blog


Step Six: Students convert a base model into personal designs

  1. Open Thingiverse: library of 3D models
  2. Open: in a new browser tab and choose an object to use as a starting point.
  3. Search and navigate the site – On the object’s page, navigate to the tab “Thing files” and find the model of interest with the extension “.STL”. Click on the STL file to download
  4. Import the object in TinkerCAD– Return to TinkerCAD and find the “Import” button at the top right (on the second menu bar). Select the STL file downloaded previously or drag-and-drop it into the import window. Adjust the scale percent or dimensions as necessary and click on “Import”.
  5. Remove the unnecessary parts – Remove the parts of the model which may interfere with the LEGO handle.
  6. Create the handle – To create the handle, add a 3mm diameter cylinder.
  7. Position the handle – Position the 3mm cylinder in the right At this step, also make sure that the imported object and the handle are sitting on the workplane.

Step Seven: Saving the STL file

 Ask participants to rename their files

  • Click on the nonsense name in the top menu bar, type in a name, and press “enter”

Log-in to the common user account and download the STL files

  • Export : Everything in Model, STL

Step Eight: Import the files into Slicer software

  1. Open the preferred slicer software, such as Tinkerine or Cura.
  2. Import the STL file
  3. Adjust the print settings (fill, wall thickness, speed, height, …)
  4. Save the file (.Gcode) to the SD card

More resources: EduTech Wiki, Tinkerine U or Ultimaker Cura Help.

Step Nine: 3D Printing – 30–45 min

  1. Insert the SD card in the 3D printer
  2. Select the previously saved file (.Gcode)
  3. Start the print!

Step Ten: Feedback – 5 min

Ask the participants to provide feedback on the workshop while the models are being printed.

Review what was learned. Ask students to provide feedback on the lesson while the models are being printed.

Have students clean-up work area.

Lesson Feedback