PART TWO: Using Apps for Kids Classroom and Tips
Michael Steeves is a Senior Product Introduction Manager at SOLIDWORKS who volunteers to teach an after school enrichment class at his daughter’s elementary school. He utilizes Apps for Kids Classroom to teach the students about 3D modeling, printing, and more. Meet Michael and follow along with his popular bridge lesson in Part One.
Apps for Kids Classroom is a powerful teaching tool for many reasons. While the apps in Apps for Kids Classroom can be used to teach students about design and 3D modeling, the interface itself is helpful for teaching kids about internet safety and best practices. “On the first day, I set the kids up with the Apps for Kids default password, and then I show them how to change it,” Michael said. “It brings up a great conversation about data privacy.”
The ability to create separate classes in Classroom, where students can find models to riff off, has been a boon to Michael. While some of his classes are that, self-contained areas for kids to save their projects, he’s also been using the classes as model libraries. For example, Michael has his students modify and print keychain models with their initials on them. He keeps the keychain templates in one class, and the letters of the alphabet in another. Students can go into these libraries, copy, or riff, the parts they need, and then save their finished models to the “final project” class so all the kids’ work can be kept together.
If a student wants to see just their work, or Michael wants to check and make sure they’ve shared their project to the right class, he can filter entire classes to see what that one student has shared. “It’s like SOLIDWORKS PDM, product data management,” he explained. “There’s a single source of truth, and you have an audit trail like you need in industry.” Without realizing it, students are introduced to the importance of system tracking and how it can benefit their workflow.
Michael tries to incorporate all of the apps into his lessons. Students love Shape It, for its modeling prowess, Style It, to have fun decorating their models, and Capture It, to keep fun images they find on the internet in one place. And he cannot stress the importance of the Print It app to fellow educators. “I think a real, tangible model is so important. It makes [the design and engineering process] real for students,” he said. “When they can hold the model in their hands, it completes the loop, and gets them saying, ‘I want to do this. Can I print this next?’ The 3D prints get them excited for the next lesson.”
He also uses the other apps in the Classroom interface for himself as a teacher. Capture It is an important part of his lesson planning and class organization. Michael has a print log saved in Capture It, that he can refer to and use to keep his student’s 3D prints under control. Print It automatically creates an STL file for all prints, and Michael is able to slice and lay out the student’s prints, while keeping a record of them in Apps for Kids itself.
“This kind of program is in high demand,” Michael said when asked about feedback from teachers. His original class had ten students. Now his after school enrichment class has a waiting list of over twenty-five kids, to the point where he’s looking for parent-volunteers just for classroom management. Teachers and parents are excited about their young kids using Apps for Kids, both as an introduction to engineering and design, and as an entry way into the world of 3D printing. Michael is happy to help facilitate that.
Michael also thinks Apps for Kids could be a great tool for educational entrepreneurs. “There’s a market for teaching this. You could start a business based around teaching Apps for Kids to students,” he said. “With Classroom, you can have multiple teachers there in one platform and organize it all. It’s absolutely there.”
As for his class’s future, Michael wants to build more. He’s putting together a ten session class pack with material and lesson plans for students in third to fifth grade. He wants these packages to be easy to distribute and easy for the students at with different learning styles to understand and follow. He thinks this could also help other educators and volunteers teach classes on their own.
“I like Apps for Kids Classroom because it makes it easy to put all this content together, deploy it, organize it, and manage it to execute a class smoothly,” Michael said. “It gives me a platform to help keep everything organized. When I show up at the school, I just have to login to Classroom and I have everything I need for the day to have a successful class.”
Schools and educators can easily adopt Apps for Kids Classroom to their curriculum, both in during school hours and in after school programs. Learn more about Apps for Kids and Apps for Kids Classroom. If your school or organization would like to try the Apps for Kids Classroom environment, sign up to be a tester here.
Thanks to Michael Steeves for taking the time to discuss his use of Apps for Kids Classroom. All images courtesy of Michael Steeves. You can contact Michael and ask him about his experience using Classroom and as a volunteer educator here. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @mmmSteeves.