Technical 3D Modeling - SCOPES Digital Fabrication

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Brent Richardson
Brent Richardson
Fablab manager


This project will promote learning digital fabrication using the constructionist learning theory, providing students space to learn through open-ended project-based experiences and helping students understand the real world value of digital fabrication.

What You'll Need

Materials List 

3/8ӠDowel Rods

Size 64 Rubber Bands


Computer with Internet Connection

Tinkercad Online 3D design application

3D printer with Computer Assisted Manufacturing (CAM) software

3D printer filament


Digital Fabrication Equipment Details

 3D scanning and printing

Design Files attachment:

2 STL models for connectors to build triangular pyramid and cube


The Instructions

Step 1: Design and print 3D connectors

Build excitement by showing students examples of what the 3D printer can do while the machine prints a new object. The examples will be more than just static toys. Many 3D printers are formed from 3D printed parts, and seeing this application can help students think beyond sculptural 3D printing.

For Next Steps covering the 3D design and print prompts and instructions, see facilitation/procedure further documentation attachment.

Step 2: Engineering Design Cycle

Explain the Engineering Design Cycle and how each aspect of the activity fits into the cycle.

PROBLEM – Need a sturdy shelter to cover one person that can be quickly assembled and disassembled.

DESIGN – Determine what shapes will be used to construct your structure

BUILD – Construct a prototype structure with dowel rods and rubber bands

TEST – Test the structure to ensure you can fit inside, and it will not fall over.

IMPROVE – Measure, design and print couplers to replace rubber bands to create a structure that can be easily taken apart and reassembled

(University of Toronto)

Step 3: Form groups and distribute materials

  • Split students into groups of 3-5.
  • Each group will receive 20-30 dowel rods and a handful of rubber bands.

Step 4: Demonstrate building basic structures

  1. Show participants how to connect dowel rods.
  2. First, take a rubber band and hook it over one dowel.
  3. Then, wrap the rubber band around a group of dowels.
  4. Once the group of dowels is snugly wrapped, hook the rubber band back over a single dowel.

Step 5: Group Build Challenge

Share activity prompt- use the rubber bands and dowel rods to build a structure large enough for a person to stand beneath.



CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.HSG.GMD.A.1 Explain volume formulas and use them to solve problems.

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.HSG.GMD.A.2 Give an informal argument using Cavalieri’s principle for the formulas for the volume of a sphere and other solid figures

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.HSG.GMD.A.3 Use volume formulas for cylinders, pyramids, cones, and spheres to solve problems

CCSS.MATH CONTENT.HSG.GMD.B.4 Visualize relationships between two-dimensional and three- dimensional objects

CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP2 Reason abstractly and quantitatively

CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP4 Model with mathematics



CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (eg., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.


HS-ETS1-1 Analyze a major global challenge to specify qualitative and quantitative criteria and constraints for solutions that account for societal needs and wants

HS-ETS1-2 Design a solution to a complex real-world problem by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable problems that can be solved through engineering

HS-ETS1-3 Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost safety, reliability, and aesthetics as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts

HS-ETS1-4 Use a computer simulation to model the impact of proposed solutions to a complex real-world problem with numerous criteria and constraints on interactions within and between systems relevant to the problem



  • I can read with understanding
  • I can respond to feedback appropriately
  • I can listen actively


  • I work together in a team
  • I can work cooperatively with others
  • I can value and respect the opinion and work of others
  • I can solve conflict and compromise
  • I can share responsibility and contribute equally in a group


  • I can display originality and inventiveness in my work
  • I can develop new ideas and communicate them to others
  • I can see failure as an opportunity to learn
  • I can use a wide range of idea creation techniques (such as brainstorming)
  • I can incorporate feedback from others into my work


  • I can define a problem
  • I can generate and test hypotheses and predictions
  • I can determine relationships between things (cause/effect)
  • I can interpret information and draw conclusions
  • I can reflect critically on learning experiences and processes
  • I can evaluate evidence, arguments, claims, and beliefs

Digital Fabrication Competencies: I Can Statements

  • (S.2) Safety: I can operate equipment in a Fab Lab following safety protocols.
  • (DP.2) Design Process: I can design something in a Fab Lab using a specific process under close instructor guidance.
  • (DP.3) Design Process: I can create analog models (e.g. sketches, small physical models, etc.) to facilitate a design process.
  • (DP.5) Design Process: I can work with a group to follow multiple common design process steps (e.g. defining the user, brainstorming, prototyping, iterating, etc. ).
  • (CAD.3) Computer Aided Design: I can draw a basic design using any 3D CAD software.
  • (CAD.7) Computer Aided Design: I can design a part to be fabricated in 3D with dimensional precision and with fabrication tolerances within 3D software.
  • (MO.2) Machine Operation: I can safely operate a digital fabrication machine under close observation of an instructor.
  • (F.4) Fabrication: I can fabricate components of my own design using a single digital fabrication process.
  • (CT.2) Critical Thinking: I can identify the design problem, investigation, or challenge.
  • (Q.2) Questioning: I can formulate questions that reveal important aspects of design process including problems and challenges.
  • (PS.1) Proposed Solution: I can explain the effectiveness of a provided solution to a design problem, or a given approach to meet a digital fabrication challenge.
  • (PS.2) Proposed Solution: I can test selected solutions or approaches to meet the challenge of design problem.

Lesson Feedback

One Response

  1. SCOPES-DF March 8, 2019
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