Children of all ages—more specifically, an age range of four to fifteen years old—gathered in DASSAULT SYSTEMES’ (DS) Bellevue, WA, office to participate in an Apps for Kids class led by SOLIDWORKS Senior Product Introduction Manager Michael Steeves.
Michael wanted to share his passion for 3D modeling with his local community, which led to him volunteering to teach an after school enrichment program at his daughter’s elementary school. The Apps for Kids program he taught through the school year was a huge success. And with the summer heating up, he realized he wanted to continue sharing and connecting with local communities; only this time, it was his office community.
All offices have some challenges when facilitating communication and creating a sense of community. Employees at DS use their own technology to bring people together. The 3DEXPERIENCE platform is designed to help businesses collaborate and connect, and it is what Michael utilized to organize his class. The Bellevue office created a community on the platform for all local employees to join. Posts range from office announcements to potluck sign ups to lists like “Things to Do in the Puget Sound Area.” The office is using it as a means to connect and communicate. And when Michael had the idea to teach an Apps for Kids class, he posted it to the community.
“I could have sent out an email blast to everyone and said, ‘Hey, who’s interested in this,’ and try to manage all the replies, but email can get out of hand when you’re contacting so many people,” Michael said. “So I decided to leverage the power of the community.” He created an idea and submitted it to the queue for events. In it, he asked if anyone with children between the ages of four and fourteen would like to bring their kids to the office and try out DS technology. Users could like and comment if they were interested.
“83 people saw it, 9 people liked it, and we had 12 people comment on it,” Michael said. There was heavy interest. Michael did end up sending out an email to the office as well, but it referred readers back to the community post so they could engage there. “It was much easier to manage and review responses with the post compared to reading numerous emails,” he said. Michael set up a time and place to hold the event: Friday, August 23, just before school started. He created a signup sheet for parents and ended up with a full house: a class of 20 kids, with an eleven-year age difference between the youngest and oldest child.
“I thought, ‘Okay, there’s a challenge here,’” Michael recalled, laughing. “How do you have a class with a four-year-old and a fifteen-year-old? But it worked out surprisingly well.” He thinks it’s because the parents of the younger children stayed during the two-hour class and helped. Though fifteen was beyond the age range Michael requested, it was still exciting for him to see the difference between the projects made by the older children and the younger children.
As he does in his after school program, Michael used the Apps for Kids Classroom interface to organize the event. “Classroom was great. I was able to create generic logins in this case, since I didn’t know who was going to sit where. Part of the administration for the class was creating some generic Bellevue usernames,” he said. “I didn’t have to worry about emails or having them sign up ahead of time. Classroom made it easy to prepopulate the event.”
During the class itself, Michael used the same format he uses in his after school classes. He gave the students a topic to start with— “What did I do during my summer vacation?” —and taught them how to collect images and ideas and draw in Capture It. After getting the hang of Capture It, he moved onto Shape It, the Apps for Kids 3D design app, and showed the children how it worked, exploring buttons and making CAD fun.
“One of the coolest things for me, especially as a dad, was having my daughter join us,” Michael said. “We ended up having a back and forth interaction.” Michael posed a question to the class: “What do you think we should make?” And his daughter cried out, “Let’s make a snowman!” Though it wasn’t quite winter yet, the class agreed, and Michael was able to teach the intuitive and well-rounded design. “A snowman is a great example for Apps for Kids, because it’s made up of all these great, default shapes, and you need to figure out how to move them, resize them, rotate them. You get some great fundamentals for how these apps work,” Michael explained. He also showed the kids how to make a pencil by adding material, teaching them how to start a model from scratch and build.
One of the goals with Apps for Kids is to teach children how to think in 3D. For the first time, kids understood they were in 3D space. Making a model look how they wanted in one view might not be the same on another side. Shape It helped the kids learn spatial awareness and develop new ways of thinking.
Michael spent around ten minutes going over each app. Along with Capture It and Shape It, he taught the kids how to color and draw on their models in Style It, and at the end of the class they created fun mechanisms in Mech It, where the fifteen-year-old flew ahead of expectations and created an amazing Spirograph contraption. And when the class ended, Michael was greeted with a chorus of thank you’s from the kids and their parents.
The event was a huge success, bringing children and employees from around the Bellevue office together. And with the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, Michael had an incredibly easy time organizing it. “How do you organize an event like this? In schools, at universities, even in offices. How do you coordinate these efforts, and facilitate this communication and collaboration?” Michael asked himself. He was able to use 3DEXPERIENCE platform and a community to check the interest in the class and organize everything needed for it to be a success. He said, “It helped prove that this class is something we want to do before we do it. The 3DEXPERIENCE platform enabled that.”
When students go on vacation again, be it spring break, midwinter break, or next summer, Michael wants to bring kids into the office for another class. “They can come in, stay active, stay engaged, and stay creative,” he said. After the class was over, many of his colleagues asked him how to use Apps for Kids and teach it at home. With all the positive feedback he received from parents and children, Michael hopes he can continue to spread the reach of Apps for Kids and help foster a feeling of community around the Bellevue office.
Interested in organizing events for your office or community with the 3DEXPERINCE platform like Michael did? Learn more about the future of design here. Apps for Kids introduces children to the engineering workflow in a fun and exciting way. With Apps for Kids Classroom, educators can organize private, self-contained classes to teach groups. You sign up to be an Apps for Kids Classroom environment tester here.
Thank you to Michael Steeves for organizing this fun event and sharing his experience. All images courtesy of Michael Steeves. You can contact Michael and ask him about his experience using the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, Apps for Kids Classroom, and as a volunteer educator here. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @mmmSteeves.