Lesson ideas and starters

Starting to think about what you're going to teach? Need some inspiration for lesson planning. The table below should help spark some ideas.

If you develop a lesson that might interest others please consider sharing it by adding it to the Lesson Submission form.


Explore the story of how a child's skull, found in an ancient cave, helped answer one of our oldest questions: Where do we come from?

Listen to the Radio Lab Podcast: The Skull

Print Taung child's skull from Thingiverse

Animation Challenge: create a face with pieces for the mouth, eyes and eyebrows that can be moved and synced to sound.Art & Design
Design Challenge: create a 3D model from a younger student's drawing.Art
Adornment Challenge: design pendants, bracelets or superhero rings.Design
Puzzle Challenge: design a puzzle comprised of three interlocking separate objects.Design
Mr. Potato Challenge: design a base and modular pieces to attach to the base.Design
Ball and Socket: create an articulated hand or foot.Design
Lamp That: Turn an object into a lamp.Design
One a Day: Ideating, designing, modeling and making. Pick an object like a coffee cup and see how far you can push it.Design
Scan and modify a plush toy.Design
Create something for your school.Design
Create an object that solves a real-world problem. See Brookwood's 3D Design Problem Bank ProjectDesign
Design, model and print an enclosure for a flash drive. Store all your 3D models on your personalized drive. Design
Connect it: design different ways to connect parts or explore how different designers have done this through hinges, ball and socket joints, magnets, etc.Design
Design an object with fillets or have students find as many objects as they can with fillets in a photo scavenger hunt.Design
Caliper skills: create an accurate copy of a real world object.Design
Reference drawing skills: create a model based on reference images.Design
Design a marble run.Design
Put a flower in it: design a bud vase (the more unexpected the better).Design
Mixing it up: make a model with a software application you have never used before.Design
Deconstruct a real world object on paper.Design
Design a model that has magnets.Design
Design a model that incorporates hardware.Design
Design a model that needs a balloon.Design
Design tessellations.Design
Look at woodworking for inspiration:

Substitute something

Combine it with something else

Adapt something to it

Modify or magnify it

Put it to some other use

Eliminate something

Reverse or rearrange it

The above list is attributed to Alex Osborn

Design a time keeper.
See 3D Printing Unlocks The Secrets Of The Portable Pork Clock
Design personalized themed book marks.Interdisciplinary
Design real or imagined mythological figures.Interdisciplinary
Design personalized themed book marks.Interdisciplinary
Design items that might have been owned by historical figures.Interdisciplinary
Design real or imagined temples.Interdisciplinary
Design measuring devices (sundials, astrolabes, clepsydras, etc.).Interdisciplinary
Design a new monetary system (coins, precious objects).Interdisciplinary
Pocket Traveller: create an 3D printed avatar, lend it to someone who is traveling, have them take photos of the avatar in unique locations, or use photo manipulation techniques to place avatar in different exotic, historical, or personally significant locations. Interdisciplinary
Animation Challenges: design/Plan a possible stop motion animation that could use printed pieces.Interdisciplinary
Internet Scavenger hunts:

  • Find examples of 3D printing in art.
  • Find examples of 3D printing in industry.
  • Find examples of 3D printing in design.
  • Find examples of 3D printing in fashion.
  • Find examples of 3D printing in medicine.
  • Find examples of 3D printing in the food industry.

Create puppets and re-enact a reading or play.Interdisciplinary
Capture your town, neighborhood, school: Scan or model.Interdisciplinary
Imagine your ideal town/Design a better playground, school, neighborhood.For examples see:

Recreate your town X years ago, or X years from now.For examples see:

Make a tactile book based on Online Accessibility Training Guidelines for Making Tactile Diagrams and Accompanying Narratives by Teresa Kardoulias.Interdisciplinary
Travel the world: Around the World in 80 Models.Interdisciplinary
Explore Gaudi:

  • Design a structure inspired by Guadi's exploration into catenary arches.
  • Explore how Guadi used nature as inspiration from the structure of a snakes skeleton to his inclusion of animals in the Sagrada Familia.
  • Create tessellations based on the Gaudi's hexagon floor tiles.
  • Design door handles that fit the hand perfectly.
  • Explore structures like conoids, hyperboloids, and helicoids.
  • Do all of the above in Spanish.

Explore the seven wonders of the ancient  world:

  • Great Pyramid of Giza
  • Hanging Gardens of Babylon
  • Statue of Zeus at Olympia
  • Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
  • Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
  • Colossus of Rhodes
  • Lighthouse of Alexandria

Or explore the New7Wonders of World:

  • Great Wall of China
  • Petra
  • Christ the Redeemer
  • Machu Picchu
  • Chichen Itza
  • Colosseum
  • Taj Mahal
  • Great Pyramid of Giza

Excavation: Create artifacts from a real or existing cultures and have students hypothesize about the culture based on their findings from a mock archeological dig.For example see: Children discover archeology with 3D printed artifactsInterdisciplinary
Write step by step instructions to model a part in a foreign language. You'll know if your students understand your instructions by viewing their models. Interdisciplinary
Design objects for accessibility.For examples see:

Design a model that uses the golden ratio.Math: Geometry
Explore Archimedean Solids.Math: Geometry
Explore Catenary Arches.Math: Geometry
Explore Conic sections.Math: Geometry
Explore Cuboctahedrons.Math: Geometry
Explore Hyperbolic paraboloids.Math: Geometry
Explore Icosahedrons.Math: Geometry
Explore Octahedrons.Math: Geometry
Explore Platonic Solids.Math: Geometry
Explore Tetrahedrons.Math: Geometry
Based on research, design a new species.Science: Biology
Design a fossil or skeleton of an invented species and determine its scientific classification.Science: Biology
Print out copies of bones, jaws,etc. and have students determine scientific classification.Science: Biology
Whose bone is this anyway? Print out bones and have students use their research skills to identify who it belongs to.Science: Biology
Create pieces for Rube Goldberg Contraption.Science: Engineering
Design a robot that can move forward using kinematics.Science: Engineering
Design an automaton.Science: Engineering
Design the tallest structure with modular parts.Science: Engineering
Explore and design gears.Science: Engineering
Explore Leonardo da Vinci's inventions.Science: Engineering
Explore and recreate a model from The Reuleaux Collection.Science: Engineering
Go fly a plane: Design an model that flies.Science: Engineering
Make Balloon RacersScience: Engineering
Wheels! Design a model that rolls.Science: Engineering
Design a machine that implements at least one of the following:

  • inclined plane
  • lever and fulcrum
  • wedge
  • screw
  • wheel and axle
  • pulley

Science: Engineering
Modify the bridges assignment from BEAM, U.C Berkeley's Science and Engineering Outreach Program. Science: Engineering

Make a lesson from one of the following Project Gutenberg ebooks: