3D printing with the very young.

I recently did an experiment with my youngest son and 3D printing. We have taught 3D modeling for the last year or so for our “So You Want to Build a Robot” class at the Cade and with our campers last year at Maker Camp. Most of the kiddos we taught were around age 10 and up and I wondered how well our youngest kiddo (age 7) would do if I were to let him loose on Tinker Cad. Now he is as much of a digital native as a kiddo can be. He cut his teeth (not literally) on first gen Little Bits and spent the past few years running around under the feet of the Curiosity Hacked guildies as they learned how to solder and use micro controllers. He was totally unintimidated when he first saw the Lego Mindstorms Ev3 programing. He casually exclaimed “Ppfft… oh that is just like Scratch!” and proceeded to jump right in with out much help from me. He also hung out while we taught the Maker Camp class to use Thinker Cad even if he didn’t actually participate in the actual activity. I wouldn’t exactly call him a noob but he had never actually worked in Tinker Cad or had any formal instruction in how to use it. So when he came to me with an idea for a “Baby Smaug flash drive cover” I decided to see just what he could accomplish on Tinker Cad with little to no training.

The pics give a pretty good representation of his first foray into 3D printing. He had to have help opening his .STL file in Cura (for slicing his model to G-Code format) and getting the prints started, but he 3D modeled the little Dragon all on his own.


It fit his flash drive great with one little snag, it doesn’t work on the lap top well. In his words “It’s wings stick out too much and it doesn’t fit in the (USB) holder on the laptop.” It does work great on my Mac because the USB ports are on the back not on the side.


I am so excited to see his next iteration of his Baby Smaug Flash Drive Cover. It is sure to be even better than the original.