TinkerCad, Autodesk, and Project Ignite: Bringing Learning into the 3rd Dimension

This is the ninth installment in my series, 15 Educational Apps in 15 Days. You can view a list of all of the posts in this series here.

A few months ago, I attended the Atid Day School Innovation Hackathon. This event gathered educators, techies, and students to work on "hacks", ideas, innovations, and apps to transform the world of Jewish education. My good friend Moshe Rosenberg was one of the winners with Tribe Quest virtual world for Jewish games. The Hackathon was fascinating and deserves a blog post of its own, if I only could find the time. This event was a venue for me to explore further for my fascination with 3D design.


My team created a prototype of a web platform for sharing and collaborating on Jewish learning themed 3D projects similar to Thingiverse and other general platforms for sharing creations. Here is a page describing our submission.

Click on the picture above to view our submission page.

And below is a picture of me presenting the project with Rabbi Shmuel Greene and here is a link to our very rough draft of a prototype, created during the Hackathon.

The potential of 3D Printing

3D printing has the potential to transform the world, creating new areas for learning in secular and Jewish education. Museums are scanning their collections so anyone can view and print a perfect model of an artifact in its collection. The National Institute of Health has created an online 3D Print Exchange to share digital models of proteins, molecules, organs and other living things. There has even been discussion on how to utilize 3D Printing in Kiruv.

The promise of 3D printing is not primarily in the finished 3D printed product, its in the design process. Designing and manipulating objects in 3D dimensions can transform one's perspective on many subjects from the design of the Mishkan to the world of engineering. The potential to print one's project is the carrot which drives students to create ever more complex and compelling designs that can be displayed and used in the physical world.


To design in 3 dimensions, students need to right tools, apps and software that facilitate thinking beyond the X-Y axis. Autodesk, the industry leader in 3D design software has chosen to make its entire suite of apps available for education at an unbeatable price, FREE. Students tend to start with Tinkercad, a basic web-based 3D design software, and as they continue to gain proficiency move up to 123D Design, Fusion, and Inventor. There are also apps for the iPad and android for 123D Design and 123D Sculpt.

How To Get Started

If you are a teacher like me with no prior experience in 3D design, your primary question is likely how to get started. Autodesk has taken care of that as well by creating Project Ignite, an online learning management system for 3D design projects. The site features lessons to learn Tinkercad, and various engineering and design projects like one to build a better hockey puck, or to learn architectural concepts like the Roman arch. Each project comes with tools to start the project directly from Tinkercad or to teach the project to students. The site even allows teachers to create virtual classrooms to host projects for their students.

Why Are They Doing This?

Autodesk's generosity has made it super easy to begin 3D designing with your students either for a project based learning unit, an after-school club, or an entire course of study.

It is also brilliant marketing. By opening so many of their core products to the educational market for free, together with guides for teachers to get started, they are assuring that the next generation of 3D designers will have the tools to continue to transform and enhance our world. These designers will have already gained a familiarity and love for Autodesk as they graduate to the world of industry. I hope other design software (like Adobe Creative Suite) will follow Autodesk's lead to help make low-cost creative educational spaces for our most innovative, talented students.