PolyAnimals 3D modelling project

PolyAnimals: Learning to design in 3D

Project-based learning is a great way to get students started with CAD design and 3D printing. Today, we're featuring PolyAnimals, an engaging project for sixth graders developed by Pioneer Gabriel-Bello Diaz.

PolyAnimals is a 6th grade lesson to bring kids into the process of 3D modeling and printing. These are key skills in our engineering lab carried out through other classrooms.


The lesson begins with simply picking your favorite animal and researching techniques in origami. The idea is to have them model their animal as if it was an origami. This allows a level of freedom to design in 3D without having to be very technical on the details. Since students get to choose their own animal they become personally invested in the project and are motivated to work through some of the difficulties when first learning to design in 3D.

When printing out samples it's good to keep them small. For a class of 25, each print took around 30 minutes and the lesson lasted a week, so everyone had a chance to print. The reward for the best PolyAnimal was a bigger print. A key factor for winning was not only the design but also the efficiency of the filament usage. The kids had to pay attention to the infill percentage and consider the model orientation to decrease the printing time or eliminate the need for support structures.

To conclude and present the lesson, we created a video that shows some of the 3D models.

It's important to document your work not only for your portfolios but to show the next class what's possible and have discussions on how to elevate your lessons. In a school focused on project-based learning through STEM, we are dedicated to getting students' skills at the industry standard and as early as possible. PolyAnimals is a great way to get students started.