The Case for Project Based Learning in 3D

What is the best way to learn the physics behind bridges? By building one.

To build a functional bridge, it’s important to have an understanding in the basics of physics, Newton’s Laws, the properties of matter, and other factors that inform us of our physical world, but it can be challenging to see how they all work together at the same time. The best way to learn about bridges is to build a model of one – a perfect project based learning (PBL) activity. That’s just what students do in Glenn Couture’s high school classes. Explore Glenn’s PBL tips and access a roundup of 3Doodler K-12 lessons to bring PBL to your learning environment.

PBL to Engage Students

Glenn Couture teaches honors and AP physics at a high school in Norwalk, Connecticut. During the school year he guides students through a wide range of topics, including kinematics, the relationship between work, power and energy, waveforms, thermodynamics, fluid dynamics, electricity, and light.

Couture guides students to make models using 3Doodler pens

A key part of teaching these topics is taking abstract descriptions of how physics work and letting students explore them hands-on through PBL. Couture caps off many of his curricular units with  projects that enable students to apply what they’ve learned to a real-world problem. Students demonstrate their understanding of complex topics by creating their own 3D models. This application of difficult concepts ensures students build confidence, express creativity, and offers tools for visual learners.

3D Application in Chemistry Class

Couture used 3Doodler pens in a unique chemistry project to build models of a side-face molecule placement crystal.

A Doodled visualization of molecules in a crystal lattice

“In chemistry, solids form crystals,” he explained while showing off the cube, a helpful tool for visualizing the relationship between molecules in a crystal lattice.

With 3Doodler students have the advantage of creating a 3D model by hand, which they then use to study the stability of various crystal types.

“I sometimes find that students have difficulty taking a concept from 2D to 3D and vice versa,” Couture added. He feels that 3Doodler pens are the ideal tools to bridge that gap.

Jumpstart PBL with 3Doodler K-12 Lessons.

Doodle Wheelers (Force and Motion)

Recommended grades: K-2
Learn about: Simple machines, force and motion
Overview: In this activity, students explore the size of wheels and their effects on force and motion. Students will design and create one small-wheeled racer and one large-wheeled racer using clothespins and a 3Doodler pen.

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STEM: Earth’s Structure and Beyond!

Recommended grades: 3-5
Learn about: Structure of Earth and other planets
Overview: Students will create 3D models of cross-sections of planets and compare and contrast the structures and layers of them. Students will record their observations of the differences of cross-sections of Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.

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STEM: Bridging the Gap

Recommended grades: 6-8
Learn about: Physics, STEM
Overview: In this activity, students will work to design a bridge and test its ability to bear weight when spanning a gap of 20 cm using a 3Doodler and no other materials.

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3D Atoms

Recommended grades: 9-12
Learn about: Rutherford atom model
Overview: In this activity, students will work to create a Rutherford model of an atom in 3D with the 3Doodler pen. Students will study their models and identify the part of an atom. They will share their work and to demonstrate their comprehension of atom structure.

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Are you inspired by Glenn Couture’s use of PBL to enhance learning and comprehension? How do you incorporate PBL in your lesson plans? Our community of parents and teachers want to know. Share your thoughts with us on social media, and be sure to tag us!

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Making Physics Physical

What is the best way to learn the physics behind bridges? By building one.

To build a functional bridge, it’s important to have a strong backing in the basics of physics, Newton’s Laws, the properties of matter, and other rules and facts that describe our world—but it can be hard to see how they all work together at the same time. The best way to learn about bridges is to build them. And that’s just what they do in Glenn Couture’s class.

Getting the Drop on Science

Couture teaches Honors and AP physics at a high school in Norwalk, Connecticut. During the school year he guides students through a wide range of topics that make up physics. These include kinematics, the relationship between work, power and energy, waveforms, thermodynamics, fluid dynamics, electricity and light.

Glenn Couture creates physics models using the 3Doodler Create.

A key part of teaching these topics is taking abstract descriptions of how physics work, and letting students experience them first hand.

"Small changes to the project can prove to be outsized challenges that send students back to the drawing board." Share

Getting through those disparate topics can take a good chunk of time, but Couture caps off many of the units with physical projects. These let students apply what they’ve learned in class to a real-world problem, demonstrating that they haven’t just learned information, but they have an understanding of how to use it.

We gave Couture a 3Doodler Create and asked him to come up with exciting ways he could incorporate it into his lesson plans. One of the first things he looked at was the classic “egg drop” experiment.

Extreme Packaging

“In the current rendition of the egg drop, the students are only allowed to use plastic drinking straws, any sort as long as there’s no paper on them, masking tape, and one raw, uncooked, uncoated, unpainted egg. The idea is to have the egg land without breaking,” Couture said.

When it comes to the actual design of the project, he has only one limitation: “It has to fit through the door of the classroom. I’ve had students come close with that depending on how many straws they’re using.” The eggs and their straw enclosures are then brought to the school’s roof and dropped 55 feet to the ground. Only those students who have eggs survive the fall receive an A.

A prototype of a Doodled egg cage.

Couture wants to attempt a variation on that project using the 3Doodler, with some new constraints. “This could be done on a smaller scale, directly in the classroom,” Couture said while examining a prototype 3Doodler egg cage. “I don’t think that it could work the full distance of 55 feet, but 16 or 18 feet would work.”

He envisions a second round of testing, while providing only a limited number of rods to students. This would add a component of “cost effectiveness” to the project. In the real world, engineers often have limited materials to work with, and need to find ways to balance competing goals.

“We had a chance to visit with the packaging engineers at a [cookie manufacturer] where they have to package things to be in trucks and things like that. So there’s that application of what they learn in the egg-drop, where they keep a product from breaking up, but we can also go bigger and look at the failed Mars Climate Orbiter of the 90’s where the probe was lost because of an error translating metric and imperial units.” Small changes to the project can prove to be outsized challenges that send students back to the drawing board.

Model Atomic Behavior

Other projects that Couture was able to develop during his time with the 3Doodler include more illustrative of processes in physics. He built a prototype model of a side-face molecule placement crystal.

A Doodled visualization of molecules in a crystal lattice.

“In chemistry, solids form crystals,” he explained while showing off the cube, a helpful tool for visualizing the relationship between molecules in a crystal lattice.

"I sometimes find that students have difficulty taking a concept from 2D to 3D and vice versa." Share

The 3Doodler offers an advantage for these models by producing long lasting models which illustrate the stability of various crystal types. Couture said that he would like to let groups of students work on different crystals and build up a collection of varieties over time.

“I sometimes find that students have difficulty taking a concept from 2D to 3D and vice versa,” Couture added. He feels that the 3Doodler is a unique opportunity to bridge that gap, as well as more literal ones.

Building Bridges

Another physical project that Couture’s students engage in is called “Quakertown.” Students create buildings out of folded paper that must withstand both the addition of weights and a mechanically shaken table to simulate both static and dynamic loads.

A Doodled Parker Truss bridge.

Students in his classes could one day create bridges using the 3Doodler to understand the how these complex structures operate, and compare the strengths and weaknesses of different designs.

"On the page, it’s easy to understand the X axis and the Y axis, but having it in 3D really helps you grasp the Z axis." Share

Couture put together a Parker Truss bridge, using a template from online. He chose the design because its gentle curve would be hard to replicate using other craft methods. However, Couture felt the 3Doodler was easily up to the task, especially after he had cut his teeth putting together other projects.

Teaching in 3 Dimensions

The last of the four samples he produced was a model of the orbitals which describe where electrons orbiting the nucleus of an atom might be found.

A Doodled orbital model.

“On the page, it’s easy to understand the X axis and the Y axis,” Couture explained as he put the finishing touches on the model, “but having it in 3D really helps you grasp the Z axis.”

After spending some time exploring the possibilities of the 3Doodler, Couture describes himself as interested in finding even more uses for the tool. It opens up unique opportunities to explore the world of physics. And those opportunities extend beyond his own classroom.

“My wife teaches seventh and eighth grade science, and she’s interested in it too. They do a bridge project using toothpicks and glue. The problem with that is it takes so long for the glue to set but this is practically instant.”

New STEM fields are emerging all the time, and rising to those challenges will require a mixture of hands-on experience, creativity, and intuitive knowledge. Couture’s time with the 3Doodler has shown just a few ways that it can help provide just that.

Looking for more ways to bring 3Doodler into your classroom?
Check out our dedicated EDU section for classroom tips, lesson plans, and exclusive EDU bundles for educators.

A Whole New Way for the Blind to Create

“I always felt that if I could see, then I would enjoy painting.”

Margaret Wilson-Hinds, age 67, is participating in a special workshop at the Royal National Institute for Blind People (RNIB) main office in Peterborough, England. Along with several other blind and partially-sighted participants, Margaret has just tried the 3Doodler Start for the first time.

Beginning with the launch of the first 3Doodler in 2013, members of our community reached out to us to explore opportunities for using the 3Doodler to overcome a variety of learning obstacles. We spoke with community centres, teachers of non-traditional learners, physical rehabilitation specialists, and teachers of the blind—all of whom thought the 3Doodler could be used to make a real difference in individual lives. As our company has grown, so has our ability to focus on these needs, with our first challenge being to adapt the 3Doodler Start for the blind and partially sighted.

“The original thinking with the first version of the 3Doodler was that it could be used by teachers of the blind and partially sighted to make tactile learning aids,” explains 3Doodler President, Daniel Cowen. “This could include raised line graphing, maps and directions, shapes or objects a student could feel, quick braille markings, feeling handwriting, and more.”

"The real goal was to create a pen that blind and partially-sighted users could use themselves." Share

Daniel and 3Doodler CEO Maxwell Bogue took note as feedback came in from those who saw how a 3D printing pen could fill a gap amongst learning aids, and provide support for the blind.

“From our earliest discussions with interested community members, we also learned that existing aides, like swell paper, were expensive and could be inadequate for these needs,” says Daniel. “The 3Doodler offered a robust way to draw touchable learning aids.”

However, there was one significant shortfall—up until that point most of the discussions had been with teachers for the blind and had been focused on educators using the pen to make tactile learning aids for their students. The real goal was to create a pen that blind and partially-sighted users could use themselves—placing the joy and accomplishment of creativity and learning directly into their hands.

Three years later, the launch of the 3Doodler Start provided the pathway to make this possible. With no hot parts and a plastic cool enough to touch, we finally had a 3D printing pen that was safe for all users.

Shortly after launching the 3Doodler Start, our team began the process of understanding what changes would be needed to create a meaningful experience for blind and partially-sighted users.

“RNIB wanted to test the product because the whole idea of 3D printing is a revolution,” explains RNIB Head of Strategy Steve Tyler. “But this take on it is particularly interesting because it’s portable, it’s hand-held, and it’s a whole new way of being able to allow children, young people, and anybody who is vision impaired to be creative.”

With a proactive approach to new tech and how it could be applied to helping the visually impaired, RNIB was a natural fit for a collaboration with 3Doodler, and would ensure rigorous testing and feedback so that the product could be adapted and enhanced in a meaningful way.

Conversations with RNIB provided the 3Doodler team with useful preliminary advice—such as incorporating tactile markings on the pen instead of braille, and the importance of audio instructions for blind users.

Now, after a year of feedback and testing—which included individuals, as well as two schools for the blind and partially sighted—the 3Doodler Start has been given the official RNIB product endorsement, a quality assurance mark for products identified as “easy-to-use” for those who are blind or have sight loss.

And opening new avenues for the blind to express creatively isn’t just about innovation, it has a direct personal impact on people’s lives.

“Being able to draw, and being able to feel what you’ve drawn, or being able to create a product using this kind of manual 3D printing method is really new and innovative,” says Steve. “I’ve got a 5 year old son, and I spent an hour with him yesterday. A sighted son, and me as a blind father, and we were able to enjoy the 3Doodler together.”

"It’s a whole new way of being able to allow children, young people, and anybody who is vision impaired to be creative." Share

Back at the RNIB office in Peterborough, Roger Wilson-Hinds admits he was reluctant to participate in the 3Doodler workshop. “I came thinking I couldn’t cope with this kind of stuff, I had to persuade myself to come,” he says. But after experimenting with patterns on cups and forms, and creating a ring for himself, he’s glad he stepped out of his comfort zone. “I’ve come away with the idea that [the 3Doodler] could be really good, this could be good for lots of people.”

The official RNIB case study put the 3Doodler Start into the hands of both young students and adults, with participants aged between 8 and 78 and with varying degrees of sight loss and vision.

Through participant feedback as well as recommendations from RNIB, the 3Doodler Start now has tactile buttons, new audio instructions to help users get started, and will soon have full instructions in Braille.

“For me, I always enjoyed art but I could never fully see what I was doing,” says Mark Evans, at the RNIB workshop.

“And I’d have the idea in my head, and I’d draw it on the page, and it’d look awful! Because I’m not a great artist,” he laughs.

But with the 3Doodler, Mark didn’t feel the same sense of frustration he’d had in the past with traditional creative tools. “This would enable me to do things and be creative and produce a better quality of work and enjoy art a lot more,” he says.

Everyone at 3Doodler is immensely proud of the work done with RNIB, as well as the impact these product changes will have on the creative lives of our users. We want to thank everyone who has been involved in this project to date, and underscore our commitment to creating a world where every person, regardless of ability, can have access to the tools they need to create and learn.

To learn more about 3Doodler EDU products, click here:

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Visit the official RNIB website to learn more about their work in supporting the blind and partially sighted.

Fan Creations: Fabricating Your Own Figurines

For some, the adventure doesn’t end when the book closes or the credits roll. Fan Creators take inspiration from their favorite movies, games, comics, and cartoons and make incredible things. To see what that passion can produce, we gave some hardcore fans the latest 3Doodler Create for two weeks.

Finding a 6-foot tall panther with alligator scales and an 8-foot tale that ends in a stinger is tough.

Jon Giordano should know, he’s looked pretty hard. Fortunately, he isn’t searching the wilds for a nightmarish cryptid, he’s looking for a miniature for his roleplaying game.

At work, Giordano is a “numbers guy.” He teaches math and is working on a PhD in the subject. But while roleplaying games are known for their dice rolls and probability tables, what attracts him to the hobby is the ability to tell stories. Creating and exploring fantastic worlds with friends is the heart of the hobby, and as he has ventured into more obscure role playing games, Giordano has run into a minor hurdle that has nothing to do with storytelling or imagination: a lack of miniatures.

Miniatures are an important part of many role-playing games. Conflict and combat are common themes in these games. “Players will often get into situations and have to fight their way out of it, and make use of markers to keep track of the complexities of positioning in combat. That way you can look at the board and immediately tell that those two people are fighting against the giant robot in the corner, and those two are ducking behind trees.”

“If I were playing a standard medieval fantasy game,” Giordano says, “I’d be able to find tons of useful figurines. Ditto for sci-fi.”

That’s why Giordano was excited to get his hands on a 3Doodler. He wanted to be able to create custom figurines that heighten the experience for players in his role-playing games, like one campaign based on Native American mythology. The 3Doodler struck him as particularly useful for games that feature obscure monsters and creatures that may not be sold in stores. With the original 3D printing pen in his arsenal, Giordano believes that he can create fantastical beings that are even more obscure than the dragons found in your typical dungeons.

One of the major advantages of table top roleplaying games is that players can encounter anything that the game master can imagine. Personalized galactic warrior? Magical talking flowers? Mystic double-headed swan? All things that could appear as adversaries, or allies, in a tabletop game. Unfortunately, finding figurines for the more outlandish creatures can be just as hard as defeating them in combat.

"You’ll get that wow moment that a description just can’t give, the 3Doodler will really let me show players what I’m imagining for them without relying on theater of the mind." Share

Giordano was able to produce three figures with his 3Doodler. The first was a corrupted bird god, shaped like an egret but with plumage darkened by negative energies. As a sort of a counterpart, he also fashioned a Buffalo minotaur who watches over a herd. The Buffalo spirit was attached to a spare base from a standard miniature to provide more stability, but the bird could stand on its own. Lastly, Giordano created a mercurial river spirit by letting the “flow” of plastic from his 3Doodler define the initial shape.

Giordano was really happy with how the figurines came out, and is looking forward to incorporating them into a future campaign.

“You’ll get that wow moment that a description just can’t give, the 3Doodler will really let me show players what I’m imagining for them without relying on theater of the mind.”

The 3Doodler is a great solution for anybody who wants to add a bespoke character to an encounter, or even modify an existing figurine. With imagination and a steady hand, almost any small-scale figurine can be crafted. The potential for crossovers, custom variations on existing figures, or anything else a game master dreams up are almost endless.

A 3Doodled figurine also has a few unique advantages over other miniature options. Imagine the personal connection you can form with a figurine you or a friend crafted by hand compared to a store-bought one. While paper cutouts are another way to create one of a kind representations of fantastic creatures, they aren’t very durable compared to solid plastic. Combining pieces from multiple figurines in a kit-bash is another fun alternative, but if that’s your preference, being able to extrude extra plastic from a 3D printing pen may come in handy as well.

Even mainstream tabletop game masters might want to consider using a 3Doodler. Dungeons and Dragons has over 40 years of published materials describing various monsters and enemies for players to encounter. Even without getting into many of the supplemental bestiaries published by other companies, there are hundreds of different creatures and monsters described in official materials. Some of the more obscure variations have figurines that are almost impossible to find, if they were ever made at all.

So next time you are planning an adventure and want to show off an obscure monster you found in a forgotten bestiary, the 3Doodler might be the perfect way to wow your players by conjuring one by hand. Or better yet, create something entirely new and give it a physical presence to match your own description.

3Doodler x DonorsChoose.org: The Only Limit is Their Imagination

Late last year, a group of teachers in the US each got their DonorsChoose.org projects fully funded, thanks to a matching offer from 3Doodler. As a result, students in classrooms across the country got their hands on 3Doodler Start pens, and were able to unleash creativity in the classroom like never before.

In the second of our DonorsChoose.org teacher profiles, we take a look at two more educators, Patricia Dennis-McClung of Sonora Middle School in Springdale, Arkansas, and Christy Marta of Aspen Ridge School in Ishpeming, Michigan.

Ask Patricia Dennis-McClung what it is that motivates her as a teacher, and she’ll tell you that it’s the ‘aha’ moments on her students’ faces. “It’s seeing their faces light up,” she says, when they finally grasp a concept, or when they make that crucial connection from A to B. Throw the same question to Christy Marta, and she’d agree and say that her students push her to be a better person and a better teacher. “They are an inspiration to others even if they don’t know it yet.”

Sonora Middle School has a very diverse make-up, with about half of the students identifying as Hispanic and 15% as Marshallese. “Springdale has the largest Marshallese population outside of the Marshall islands.” Over 52% of students meet the low-income criteria, and 78% of the students enrolled at Sonora Middle School receive free or reduced lunch – “and that’s those that have filled out the paperwork and qualified,” Patricia adds, as many of the parents simply don’t know how.

Aspen Ridge School is, Christy says, a rural school in a remote community. “We have a large preschool-8th-grade population, and with the cost of basic supplies, curriculum materials, and intervention programs, it’s sometimes difficult to meet all current needs.” One of her main priorities is ensuring that her students leave her classroom with a lifelong love of learning. Key to that is having access to proper materials, like the 3Doodler Start EDU bundle successfully funded late last year.

Much like Blair and Connie, Christy and Patricia both came across 3Doodler via DonorsChoose.org. Patricia had wanted for some time to incorporate 3D printing pens into her 3D design classes, and when she saw the matching offer made by 3Doodler, she knew that they would be perfect for the gifted and talented program at her school.

"The pens have turned an everyday assignment into something amazing." Share

“3D printing is something that a lot of these kids are going to be working with in the future,” she says. “And that’s something that I don’t think people have really thought about at the moment.” The 3Doodler Create Half EDU bundle that they received earlier this year has given her students an opportunity to have a hands-on experience with technology that already shapes the way the world works – from Hershey’s Kisses to homes that have been printed entirely with 3D tech. “It’s just insane the way technology is moving, so I think that it’s important for kids to have exposure to it.”

For Christy, the reasons for choosing 3Doodler were a little simpler – after discovering the Match Offer, she did a little research on 3Doodler and what the pens could do, she realised that they would be ideal for use in her classes.

“I looked into them,” she says, “And loved what I saw. I thought I could use them to help my students visualise shapes in their actual 3D forms in math, make models of plants, cells and planets in science, and write stories and create characters through 3D modeling in language arts. I saw the students being able to bring their ideas to life, and I thought it would add fun and excitement to the curriculum.” It has, Christy adds, gone beyond that – her students absolutely love using the pens. The pens have “turned an everyday assignment into something amazing,” and her students have come up with any number of ways in which to use the pens, which they beg to be able to use every day.

"I’m always just shocked by the people that I don’t know that donate. It shows how important something like DonorsChoose.org is." Share

It’s clear that this enthusiasm for the pens is shared by Patricia’s students too. “They love them,” she says. “When they see them laid out, they get really excited. The first time we used them, it was in a 45 minute class, and I was just so impressed that they did so much better than I did.” Patricia’s students went from using the pens to weld 3D printed pieces together, to using them to create small-scale models of things they’d create on a 3D printer. “There will be more ways for the students to use the pens than what I’d initially anticipated. I’m going to be creating a makerspace so that more students from the school can use them. I want to be able to provide an opportunity for more students to use them than just my class.”

Both Christy and Patricia have said that the pens, and the use of tactile technology, have been very easily incorporated into their classroom work. “They’re a great motivator for kids,” Christy says, “and are an effective teaching tool. Students are allowed free time to use the pens after all their work is complete, and it has been very effective.” Her students are always thrilled to be able to use them, and whatever they create is only ever limited by their own imagination.

Unlike Blair and Connie, both Patricia and Christy shared their DonorsChoose.org projects openly with their students – Christy’s students are in fact begging her to do another project to get more pens or more of the plastic refills. When it came to getting their projects heard, neither educator did all that much, other than post about it on social media. “Since we do have such an impoverished community, [the children and their parents] were not able to donate to it,” Patricia explains. “I have a classroom Instagram page so I put it on there, and I put it on Facebook too. I’m always just shocked by the people that I don’t know that donate. It shows how important something like DonorsChoose.org is.” Christy also shared her project on Facebook, and adds that this project had been fully funded by two donors. “Normally I’d have parents or companies to thank, but both of the donations were anonymous.”

As much fun as the students have been having with the pens (and both educators have plenty to say on that topic!), for Patricia it’s all about what they’ll take away from the experience of using them. “Are they fun? Absolutely,” she says, “but hopefully it’ll allow them to see things differently.” Tactile technology, and the benefits of hands-on learning with the pens can already be felt, mere months into use for both teachers. “I think they’re a bit more cooperative. There’s always someone that’s willing to jump in and help out another student, or they’ll swap pens and say ‘here, use mine and I’ll fix yours’.”

The possibilities are endless, agrees Christy, and it’s thanks to platforms like DonorsChoose.org, which has allowed educators access to materials previously inaccessible to them. “Every day, the students demonstrate that they are critical thinkers, leaders, dreamers, hard workers, and amazing little people.”

Looking for more ways to bring 3Doodler into your classroom?
Check out our dedicated EDU section for classroom tips, lesson plans, and exclusive EDU bundles for educators.

3Doodler x DonorsChoose.org: What They Are Creating

Late last year, a group of teachers in the US each got their DonorsChoose.org projects fully funded, thanks to a matching offer from 3Doodler. As a result, students in classrooms across the country got their hands on 3Doodler Start pens, and were able to unleash creativity in the classroom like never before.

In the first of our DonorsChoose.org teacher profiles, we shine a light on two of these teachers, Blair Mishleau of Washington DC’s Kipp DC: Heights Academy, and Connie Bagley of Crockett Elementary School in San Marco, Texas.

Students at Kipp DC: Heights Academy get first-hand experience with the 3Doodler Start

This wasn’t Blair Mishleau’s first DonorsChoose.org rodeo—the Washington DC-based teacher is a veteran of the crowdfunding website for educators, having raised more than $20,000, and with more than nine projects under his belt.

“I want to provide my kids with choice and voice,” he says. His school is a public charter school in Washington DC in one of the most historically underserved neighbourhoods of the state. The school has 450 students, and 99% of them are African American. Of that number, 90% qualify for free or reduced-price lunches—a pretty useful measure, Blair adds, of the socioeconomic statuses of the families of the students.

"The students could write with them, and then actually feel the shape of the letters." Share

Connie Bagley, a dyslexia reading specialist, has approximately 650 students at her school from Kindergarten through 5th grade. Over 75% of the students there are economically disadvantaged. It is student success that motivates Connie as a teacher—every day she works with dyslexic learners that advance best when taught through visual, auditory, and tactile/kinesthetic methods.

Connie Bagley's students make letters you can touch

“Seeing students learn to read, then read to learn is what makes this job rewarding.” That’s why Connie decided that the 3Doodler Start pens would be great for her students. “My first thought was that these would be perfect for multisensory instruction. My students learn best with a VAKT program: visual, auditory, tactile/kinesthetic.” The 3Doodler pens, would be very effective at fulfilling the tactile portion of the program. “The students could write with them, and then actually feel the shape of the letters.”

Both Connie and Blair came across 3Doodler in the same way—via emails from DonorsChoose.org that told them about a matching offer with 3Doodler. Any donations made by the public would be matched by 3Doodler, ensuring that the project would be fulfilled in half the time (or as quickly as possible!). That’s why, Blair says, websites like DonorsChoose.org are so important to his students, as it opens up access to tools for disadvantaged kids that they simply wouldn’t have otherwise.

Late last year, Blair’s project requesting a 3Doodler Start EDU Bundle for his technology classes was fully funded. The pens have been utilised in his 1st and 4th grade technology classes, which focus on tech literacy, computer programming, keyboarding, and “pretty much anything else that would be helpful in providing access and opportunity around technology”. And they have, for the most part, lived up to expectations.

"No kid has said ‘I can’t figure this out,’ or ‘I give up,’ with the pens. I can’t think of a tool that I’ve used where that’s been the case." Share

“I often find that a lot of tech projects are a lot more sexier and user friendly in videos and photos compared to when you actually get them, but once I got the pens, I realized how sturdy they were, and how easy they are to use.” Each one of his classes only gets to use the 3Doodler pens once a week, but they’ve already quickly adapted to using them. “No kid has said ‘I can’t figure this out,’ or ‘I give up,’ with the pens. I can’t think of a tool that I’ve used where that’s been the case.”

Students in Blair Mishleau’s class cooperate to create

Connie has found equal enthusiasm in her classes for her 3Doodler Start EDU bundle. “The students are begging to use them,” she says, although they’re still getting used to them for now. Connie’s students are taking full advantage of other objects around them, using small paper cups as bases to create things like rocket ships and towers, with stars and other shapes as decorations. Connie also plans to share her pens with fellow teachers who do lessons on architecture.

One thing that Blair has noticed is that his students have worked as a team much better than he would have thought they would using the pens. “I don’t have enough pens for everyone—just one per two children—but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how kind they are. Not only do they work in groups, but I’ll see students—when it’s not technically their turn to use the pens—helping others.” Not only have his students been working better together, Blair has also found that they have been taking creative steps without his input—with some children building geometric shapes before he had even introduced them as a concept.

Both Connie and Blair chose not to tell their students about their DonorsChoose.org projects, as they did not want to have to disappoint them if they weren’t funded. “My students did not even know I had submitted a project,” said Connie. Blair did the same as he felt it was better to under-promise and over-deliver.

"I don’t have enough pens for everyone, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how kind they are. I’ll see students—when it’s not technically their turn to use the pens—helping others." Share

They needn’t have worried: although neither did much self-promotion to push their projects forward, anonymous donors from across the country were still willing to contribute to their cause. “Someone called Jacob donated, and I literally have no idea who it is,” Blair said, adding that someone else from the District of Columbia donated with a gift card. “Most of these people are people I don’t know.” Connie has had a similar experience—one of her donors left a comment saying that she was also a special education teacher and that she understood the need for something like 3Doodler in the classroom.

All in all, for Connie and Blair the 3Doodler pens have gotten off to a great start in their classrooms, an achievement that wouldn’t have been possible without incredible platforms like DonorsChoose.org, their vision for including innovative new tools in their schools, and the unwavering support of all the project donors out there.

Looking for more ways to bring 3Doodler into your classroom?
Check out our dedicated EDU section for classroom tips, lesson plans, and exclusive EDU bundles for educators.

From Classroom Dreams to Community Donations

In November 2016, 3Doodler joined with DonorsChoose.org to help make tactile tech a reality for classrooms across the USA.

Our pledge was to match each donation to projects requesting a 3Doodler EDU Bundle, dollar for dollar. We’re always looking for ways to encourage hands-on learning and tactile methods for teaching, and there’s no better way to do that than through the requests of teachers themselves.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be going into the classrooms that had their 3Doodler EDU projects fully funded through our matching campaign. We’ll speak with the teachers, and get an inside look at the difference DonorsChoose.org and 3Doodler has made.

Looking for more ways to bring 3Doodler into your classroom?
Check out our dedicated EDU section for classroom tips, lesson plans, and exclusive EDU bundles for educators.

How tactile technology can help those with learning disabilities

One (teaching) size fits all? Experienced educators know that’s not how it works— especially when it comes to teaching students with learning disabilities. Not every student responds well to traditional, classroom-based teaching methods, and what makes one student’s eyes light up in understanding, might leave another as confused as they were before the start of class.

One in five children and adults in the US are affected by learning or attention issues, and approximately 8% of children aged 3-17 are reported as having been diagnosed with a learning disorder. While personalized learning for those with learning disabilities might be the ideal, adapting teaching methods to individuals can be difficult in a large classroom, and teachers don’t want students with learning disabilities to feel singled out.

Moving towards tactile technology

Many teachers are turning to tactile learning and evolving technologies as a way to engage students across different learning styles and needs. As part of a multi-sensory learning approach, tactile technology can help students across a range of skill development areas and a broad range of subjects. Such an approach is especially helpful for students with learning difficulties like dyslexia and similar impairments such as dyscalculia and dysgraphia—which affect math and writing understanding and abilities.

Assistive technology that plays to the student’s strengths and works around their challenges has already been making its presence known in the classroom—from interactive white boards, to the more recent addition of 3D printers.

More schools for students with learning disabilities are embracing technology, and makerspace tech like 3D printers, cameras and robotics kits can now be found in educational facilities across the USA and around the world. The results are clear: hands-on learning with physical tools helps students to understand ideas and concepts that are otherwise hard to grasp, enables interest in industries related to technology, and can be particularly effective in cultivating interest in STEM subjects. And there’s plenty of successful examples of this in practice.

The Benefits of Hands-on Learning

Tactile teaching—using physical, demonstrative, auditory or visual objects—can help keep students engaged and helps them focus their minds on the present. Tech that encourages people to physically be involved like the Raspberry Pi, 3D printers, and of course 3Doodler bring a new or relatively unexplored aspect of learning into the classroom.

Students who struggle with ADHD may vastly prefer tactile learning methods over auditory or visual learning styles. Having to create a diorama or a model might mean students understand better than if they were asked to simply imagine a spatial arrangement, the concept of geometry, or complex equations in their head. "When students are given the tools to physically create a model, they can see exactly how all the parts come together to function as a whole." ShareAsking a student to create a model of the Eiffel Tower, for example, demands much more due diligence than just getting them to sketch it out. It may be difficult for someone who has dyslexia or ADD to concentrate long enough on understanding why the tower’s structural integrity relies on many different factors, but physical tools would help engage them enough to grasp why certain shapes work better than others, how math factors into construction, and why some materials work better than others.

Teachers have found that using tactile teaching methods in subjects like biology can reap better results than when students are asked only to visualise a concept. When students are given the tools to physically create a model of a cell, for example, they can see exactly how all the parts come together to function as a whole. Consider if students who have dysgraphia are asked to explain why a beetle looks the way it does—if they can create their own beetle and physically point out why it has adapted to its environment, they stand a better chance of being able to contribute to a class discussion than if they are forced to fall back on writing it out.

Dyslexic students, who may have visual or auditory deficiencies, may find that they excel when they apply tactile or kinesthetic methods to their learning. People who have trouble reading words, letters or numbers could benefit from creative solutions such as making their own words, letters or numbers (handy for those with dyscalculia) on plastic blocks helps them process sequences or equations better.

Across the board, in subjects that range from the arts to hard sciences, tactile technology has proven tremendously beneficial. When it comes to adapting for students with learning disabilities, it’s time to put down those pens and pencils and pick up a tool of a different sort. With new tactile tech, your students can have their hands (quite literally) full with tools to help them grasp the practical skills and knowledge that comes from innovative learning.

Get out there, and be creative. Your students will thank you for it.

Looking for more ways to bring 3Doodler into your classroom?
Check out our dedicated EDU section for classroom tips, lesson plans, and exclusive EDU bundles for educators.

5 Lifesaving DIY Doodles for the Home

When it comes to the things we use most around the home, small breaks are bound to happen with the general everyday wear and tear of life. It’s unavoidable, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fixable!

With your 3Doodler in hand, you can DIY your own fixes and repairs for all sorts of breaks and damages that can happen around the house.

1. Broken Scissors Just Won’t Cut it

It’s tragic when an otherwise great tool is wrecked by one little bit of broken plastic. That’s what happened to these scissors. While the blades are still fine, they won’t work properly when the plastic handles are broken.

Fortunately that’s a quick fix with the 3Doodler! To fill in the cracks, PLA will create a strong, solid hold. You can also weld the plastic together with the Create’s hot tip. Using a combination of both will give a lasting solution that will make your scissors stronger than ever.

A bit of extra plastic and a little welding keeps your scissors snipping

2. Saving a Stand for the Kitchen

When this cutting board stand started to crack, it looked like the end for this handy storage unit. What good is a stand that won’t hold up?

Luckily all it took was a bit of repair work with the 3Doodler to make it like new – and possibly even stronger than before! With added PLA plastic which welded and reinforced the stress points of the stand, it can now continue to hold up under constant kitchen use.

3. Zapping a Problem Zipper

There’s nothing more frustrating than a broken zipper. Whether on a bag, jacket, purse or any other zip-able item, you need that zipper to do it’s job!

Fortunately, there’s this handy fix and video tutorial from Creative World to help you Doodle your way back to a fully functional zipper.

4. A Doodle DIY for Your Deck

A quick Doodled replacement makes this home repair a snap!
The plastic ring that hold the umbrella in place on this deck table kept breaking. And a wobbly umbrella can upset the whole balance, and ruin an afternoon outdoors!

Fortunately, all it takes is your 3Doodler and a bit of measuring, and you can create your own custom ring that withstand even more wear and tear than the original. You can use ABS or PLA to create the ring, and could even add some FLEXY around the bottom and inside to give it a non-slip upgrade!

5. A 3DIY Fix for Your 3D Prints

It’s the repair that sparked the whole idea for the 3Doodler: what do you do when your 3D printer misses a line, or a 3D print breaks or cracks? Fill it in using your very own hand-held 3D printer, of course!

The 3Doodler is perfect for fixing damages or accidents that can happen to your 3D prints. Don’t waste the time and effort involved in 3D printing, just make a quick repair and you’re good to go.


With so many options to fix and repair, the 3Doodler can save not only your tools and home items, but can also save you lots of money by avoiding costly replacements!

Not sure where to start when it comes to using your 3Doodler around the house? Check out our Hot Tips section to get insider ideas on how get the most out of your 3Doodler, and have you Doodling like a pro.

Show us your 3Doodler DIY fixes by tagging us @3Doodler and using #3Doodler and #WhatWillYouCreate

Design Thinking at 3Doodler

“Why don’t you add Bluetooth? Or have an app? Or put more sensors in it? You can get in the Apple Store!”. But that wasn’t what we were doing, or what 3Doodler is about. Sure it’s tempting to adapt a product and add bells and whistles so that you can sell even more, but at what cost?

What we sacrificed was being able to say we were part of the Internet of things. What we gained was the ability for anyone, tech savvy or not, young or old, smartphone equipped or not, to use our pens.

The idea of a 3D pen is such a new and unexpected concept that it needed to be as simple and easy to learn as possible. A tactile experience, just like using a pen or a pencil.

We’ve stayed true to that philosophy for over four years, and even with the release of the 3Doodler PRO, our most advanced product, it’s all about getting tactile, and eradicating any barriers that might exist between a user and their ability to create what they want.

"It’s about connecting you and your movements with the pen, and there’s no better way to do that than with your hands"-Howard Share

If anything we’ve been on a mission to make our products even simpler, not more complex; and not more connected or virtual. For example, the PRO has dials where it could have had switches (or an app that communicates with the pen). As a user gently turns those dials the pen responds, raising the speed or the temperature the same way one would gently nudge up the volume on a sound system. It’s about connecting you and your movements with the pen, and there’s no better way to do that than letting people get hands on.

That same tactile experience has also driven much of what we do in education. Back in 2014 we started to work with teachers for the blind and partially sighted, using our pens to draw instant tactile learning aids. In 2015 we ran a case study with a UK-based school and found, conclusively, that the tactile experience of using the 3Doodler gave visual learners a welcome leg-up in class.

Now with the kid-safe 3Doodler Start, which is completely cool to the touch, the scope for getting hands on has jumped another level. Users can touch and mould their Doodles the instant they come out of the pen – and those same blind and partially sighted students now have a pen they can use safely without any concerns about hot plastic.

So while the world is putting iPads in front of kids, or trying to connect everything to the big wide web, we’re putting down the screens and asking you to pick up, feel and craft; to rediscover what you can do with your hands in an unvirtual reality. We’re using the power of touch – and not the screen – to take you back to an era (not that long ago!) when creativity and play meant doing something with your hands.

And it’s working. As we near 2017 we’ll be marking our millionth 3Doodler, with users creating everything from curricular aids, to architectural replicas, 3Doodled dresses and cars, as well as art that is being proudly displayed in galleries worldwide. That’s a staggering win for the tactile, and the reason we’ll always strive for simple and accessible rather than overly-complicated.

Written by Daniel Cowen, Co-Founder & COO

A Model Town from a Model Classroom

We often discuss the classroom applications for 3Doodler in STEM subjects, or as a way for students to learn about emerging technologies. But the educational benefits of 3Doodler aren’t just restricted to math and science, as English teacher Eva Reilly shows.

Reilly challenged her high school English class to make a model of their home town – Phillips, Wisconsin – as a way to inspire proper research and learn how to find reliable and trustworthy sources.

The class constructed their eight-foot model of the downtown street as part of their non-fiction unit in their English curriculum. And as with any non-fiction project, the first step is research.

“They read and wrote reviews of articles, memoirs, letters from books, newspapers, periodicals, and the internet about Phillips,” says Reilly.

The students took note of notable historical events that had affected the town, and shaped how it looked – like the Phillips Fire of 1894.

This fire swept through the entire downtown area the students were recreating, levelling many of the original structures. In the rebuilding efforts, the major buildings were required to be made from brick as a fire-safety measure.

"History is not just about events of way back in the day; it is the making of our past, present, and future" Share

Knowing the history and events which resulted in how the town currently looks gave new meaning to the construction of the model. “After learning about the history of Phillips and its development, students picked business buildings downtown to reconstruct on a scale model,” Reilly says. “They didn’t realize how difficult the project would be at first.”

Students visited the buildings in person, taking photos to use in the construction of their model to make sure they could be as accurate as possible. They also talked to residents with first-hand knowledge of the buildings’ histories and how they had been renovated throughout the years, all while keeping notes in fieldwork journals to chronicle the project.

To create the models, Reilly introduced some cross-subject integration by having the student figure out the correct dimensions for each building using algebra and geometry. “They learned we need math in everything we do, not just in the classroom,” Reilly says. “Sometimes, quite frankly, they were confused as to whether they were in math, science, history, or English class, but the process sure kept them engaged!”

Using 3Doodler pens, the students got to work constructing their model town. They needed to refer to their notes, photos, and research to make the buildings accurate for a realistic model. “The students learned that English is not just reading about fiction or nonfiction material, but it is also a bit of a history lesson,” Reilly says. “History is not just about events of way back in the day; it is the making of our past, present, and future.”

"As teachers, we learn that hands-on projects help students apply what they learn in school to the world around us" Share

Reilly is continuing the project again with future classes. The model – which is currently on display at the Phillips Public Library – will continue to grow as students each year research a different area of the town.

“As teachers, we learn that hands-on projects help students apply what they learn in school to the world around us – predictable and unpredictable,” explains Reilly. “Students learn that, in the end, everything we learn in school comes together – English, history, math, science, and technology.”

Looking for more ways to bring 3Doodler into your classroom?
Check out our dedicated EDU section for classroom tips, lesson plans, and exclusive EDU bundles for educators.

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