Charting the Course to Imagination: Using Game Based Learning and 3D printing in your classroom

For teachers, adopting and implementing technology can be a daunting and frustrating task. We will utilize a platform that is familiar to both the teacher and the students to foster engagement and use of the 3D Printer by utilizing Minecraft and Photoshop in the learning environment. Specifically, using Minecraft and Photoshop to teach the basics of 3D design and 3D printing to teachers.

3D printed MineCraft Cathedral

At present teachers have hesitated to utilize 3D printing due to a number of reasons. The difficulty of learning and teaching a 3D CAD program is daunting.

However, numerous options exist to assist todays classroom teacher: Game Based Learning, i.e. Minecraft, as well as some classroom friendly design programs like Tinkercad.

TinkerCad - Free 3D design tool by Autocad

Recently they have added a 'block building' feature to allow a more direct approach to those familiar with this technique (I call it the 'minecraft') feature :)

Mineways is a easy to use tool that allows objects created in Minecraft to be 3D printed.
Items Created in Minecraft and printed on a Makerbot printer.
  • Roman Aquaduct
  • Plant Cell
  • Simple Castle - Done by the author as 'proof' of concept.

**Post VSTE presentation update**

Thanks to @MrsThomasTRT for introducing us to a new tool:


Blokify is a iPad app that allows you to create directly on the iPad and print to a 3D printer. Check it out at iTunes.

With these new technologies, we can lesson the "Steep Learning Curve" created by the complexities of 3D Design and utilize the benefits of Game Based Learning.


Buhler, A. G., & Gonzalez, S., & Bennett, D. B., & Winick, E. R. (2015, June), 3D Printing for Middle School Outreach: A Collaboration Between the Science Library and the Society of Women Engineers Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23353

Horejsi, M. (2014). Teaching STEM with a 3D Printer. Science Teacher, 81(4), 10.

Reggia, E., & Calabro, K. M., & Albrecht, J. (2015, June), A Scalable Instructional Method to Introduce First-Year Engineering Students to Design and Manufacturing Processes by Coupling 3D Printing with CAD Assignments Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23447

Schelly, C., Anzalone, G., Wijnen, B., & Pearce, J. M. (2015). Open-source 3-D printing technologies for education: Bringing additive manufacturing to the classroom. Journal Of Visual Languages & Computing, 28226-237. doi:10.1016/j.jvlc.2015.01.004

To Understand the Future of 3D printing, Talk to Students June 29, 2015 | 3d design, higher ed, K-12, MakerBot 3D Printers | by Jonathan Jaglom - http://www.makerbot.com/media-center/2015/06/29/to-understand-the-future-of-3d-printing-talk-to-students


Created with images by Edelby - "Minecraft Cathedrale"

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