Jackie Tan Teaches Future Makers with SOLIDWORKS Apps for Kids, Part Two

Part Two: SOLIDWORKS Apps for Kids Classroom in the Classroom

SOLIDWORKS Apps for Kids prints made by Jackie Tan's 6th graders
SOLIDWORKS Apps for Kids prints made by Jackie Tan’s 6th graders

Jackie Tan is a Maker Lab teacher at South Tahoe Middle School in South Lake Tahoe, CA. After discovering and falling in love with 3D printing, she is in the process of creating a sustainable Maker program at her middle school, and is utilizing SOLIDWORKS Apps for Kids to do so. Read Part One of her story here.

“I made my first 3D print in November [2017],” Jackie said. “I’m on my one-year 3D printing anniversary right now. With my newfound knowledge of 3D printing and SOLIDWORKS Apps for Kids, which to me is an awesome program, I see a great opportunity to get every kid that I see this year in the Maker Lab to make their first 3D print.”

Back in September 2018, Jackie was gearing up for the new school year with her Maker Lab and Apps for Kids. After the success of the previous school year, the district has given her a significant amount of funding, along with her own grant-getting efforts, and she was preparing for over 400 kids to come in and out of her lab. While rummaging through her bag, she found the business card she received from SOLIDWORKS at the Maker Faire. “Literally on Monday I found the card, and it said [there was] a Classroom version of SOLIDWORKS Apps for Kids. It’s like, oh my gosh, I totally forgot about this. And on Wednesday I was running a class!” Jackie exclaimed. A mere ten days after she started organizing her students and classes with Apps for Kids Classroom, Jackie had some very nice models printing away on her Flashforge Finders.

Jackie’s 8th graders using the Flash Forge Finers

Jackie is one of the earlier testers for SOLIDWORKS Apps for Kids Classroom. Apps for Kids Classroom allows educators to organize self-contained classes and teach their kids the principles of design and engineering. It provides a secure and private environment for students and educators to collaborate, lets teachers share content directly with students, comes with multiple lesson plans for various grade levels, and helps keeps students and projects organized.

This year, more than 400 kids will take classes in Jackie’s Maker Lab. With Apps for Kids Classroom she’s been able to add her students with their unique school email IDs, which allows them to continue to experiment with Apps for Kids models once their elective is over. She’s been in close contact with the Apps for Kids team, giving them feedback on how Classroom is working and what her students think of it.

6th grade prints
6th grade prints

Jackie has created an intuitive and fun course for her kids to follow in the Maker Lab. In SOLIDWORKS Apps for Kids, she starts every new group with a simple keychain, to teach them how to add and subtract material. Once they make their first keychain models, the kids move on to animals.

Here’s where one of Jackie’s more brilliant teaching innovations comes in.  Surprisingly, it was born from a shipping mistake. “I asked for three little containers of Play-Doh last year,” she explained, “and I had two cases of Play-Doh delivered. I’ve been looking into a Play-Doh project since last year and now I’m married to it, it’s fantastic.” Jackie’s Play-Doh projects relate directly to SOLIDWORKS Apps for Kids. To teach her students how to think in three dimensions, she has them mold their animals out of the Play-Doh, so the model can be exactly what the student imagines. Then she takes a photo of the Play-Doh sculpture, uploads it to the students’ Seesaw journal, and voila! Her kids can refer back to the hand-sculpted model when creating in Apps for Kids.

Models designed and printed by Jackie's students
Models designed and printed by Jackie’s students

For the students, it’s a fantastic bridge to 3D modeling. “My kids start with a keychain, with simple commands. Then they learn how to bridge, they learn how to make a native shape larger and smaller by dragging the [SOLIDWORKS Apps for Kids] yellow cups. They learn how to stretch and warp parts of a figure, I call it ‘pushing’ and ‘pulling.’ And they practice all of that with their animal. And when they’re done with that, they get to design a new model of their own choice. At this point, [the students] have three designs, and they get to choose which one they want to print.”

Jackie laughed. “My printers have been running non-stop since yesterday! It’s super exciting, because the kids are going to see their first 3D prints tomorrow morning!”

With pride, she said, “My students are truly digital natives. It’s fantastic to give them software that allows them to create on their terms.” Jackie doesn’t allow her students to find 3D models on the internet and print them at school—she’s not running a print shop. She requires kids to create their own, original models as a way to push both their creativity and their modeling skills. And she’s happy to report that her students are discovering, hey, they’re pretty good at this.

Learn more about Jackie’s plans and the future of her program in Part Three: 3D Tech Squad Takeover and Sharing a Legacy.

Sara Zuckerman

Sara Zuckerman

Sara Zuckerman is a SOLIDWORKS Education Contractor, Social Media and Marketing. She has a B.A. in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College and recently earned a Certificate in Web Development from MassBay Community College. Sara is excited about utilizing this blog to combine her two passions, writing and technology.