If you’re on the hunt for some fresh ideas for the classroom consider the PrintLab|Autodesk assistive device challenge which is a global 3D design and print competition open from now until 1 April 2021.
This global initiative will see schools across the globe investigate, relate and create with a mission of making the lives of the elderly or disabled in their communities just that little bit easier with a thoughtfully designed assistive device.
How much time you want your class spend on the project is up to you. To assist teachers there are banks of lesson plans ready to go. You can run it as a block of 5 x 1 hour sessions, or spend a little more time and follow the 10 x 1 hour session lesson plans. There’s even mapping to the Australian curriculum.
Where your not feeling confident with 3D design and printing EduKits would love to help you out. We can hook you up with a great portable classroom printer – the UP Mini 2, and help skill you up with 5 hours PD you can self pace through online covering 3D design and printing principles including how to manage a classroom of students using CAD software TinkerCad.
If you’ve been 3D printing for a while with your class you might want to jump straight in. Registration for the competition along with the full terms and conditions are available on the website https://www.makeablechallenge.com/
We look forward to seeing what solutions the next generation of dreamers, thinkers and tinkerers come up with.
Code Kit is our simple, drag-and-drop coding app for Arduino, launched just a few months ago to replace Codeables Studio. Now, we’ve delivered the next big updated with more features and capabilities than ever before.
In this article, we’ll unpack some of the most notable changes and new features, and explain how you can make the most of them.
If you haven’t used Code Kit before, you should definitely give it a look at edukits.co/code.
Save, store, use and change data with new variable functionality. A variety of variable types are available, including integer, float, boolean and string variables.
More Blocks, More Control
A trove of new blocks have been added to the Code Kit library, allowing users more creativity with their coding creations than ever before.
Setup & Loop Block
The most notable of the new blocks, the setup and loop now allows you to specify where code should appear in the program. In previous versions, all code would appear in the main loop. Now, users can add custom code to the setup section.
The new block can be found under the ‘Loops’ section in the toolbox on the left of the application.
LED Strip Control
Control up to 4 RGB LEDs on a single strip with our new block. Each LED is individually addressable (allowing users to set different colours for each LED), allowing almost endless possibilities for customisation and creativity.
Note that the LED strip should be connected to Digital Pin 3 on your microcontroller. The pin settings for some blocks are not yet customisable.
One of our favourites, the new gesture block allows you to respond to gesture inputs from a compatible gesture sensor.
The block works as a boolean, returning ‘true’ if a specific gesture (an ‘up’ gesture, for example), is detected. This can be used in conditional statements as part of an if or loop block.
A Completely New Look
Code Kit now has a completely new look. While our original release drew heavily from its predecessor, Codeables Studio, we’ve now transitioned to a fully new design for the application. We think you’ll love it.
With this new look comes Dark Mode, which is enabled by default. You can go back to normal with a handy switch located on the bottom-left of the application, below the left toolbox. We’ll save your preference for next time so that the app looks just how you like it.
An all-new colour scheme has taken over the blocks!
Colour is an important part of Code Kit, helping users to distinguish between different block categories and to help them find further blocks to add to their inventions.
You can see the new colours in the toolbox, blocks and throughout the user interface as a whole.
Get Started with Code Kit
The best part about Code Kit is that it’s completely free. Use it at home, in the classroom or for some serious work. It’s up to you.
We’ve been looking after schools this month with great deals on bundles on 3D printers complete with teachers resources. For the home or commercial user we’ve got some freebies to give away with each 3D printer purchase this June.
UP Mini 2
Buy the UP Mini2 ES portable 3D printer and receive 2kgs of PLA filament free of charge.
Buy the UP 300 workhorse 3D printer and receive a free Cetus3D printer. Print two jobs at once. Awesome.
Buy the X5 continuous 3D printer and receive 10 rolls of PLA filament free of charge.
The small print
Offers end 30 June 2020. Free filament will be from colours chosen at random. Promotion only open to our Australian customers.
Teaching coding to kids can be a little challenging, especially with Arduino. Text-based coding is extremely intimidating for those just getting started, and it’s extremely easy to run into errors if you don’t know what you’re doing.
In the classroom, things can get messy pretty quickly. If you’re a digital technologies teacher (or have even dabbled in tech teaching), the raucous of 25 kids all having technical difficulties at once should be familiar.
The code is created by dragging and dropping blocks within the app and arranging them in a certain order. In the toolbox to the left of the screen, you can view all the categories of blocks the app has to offer.
To add a block, click on one of the categories and then click and drag any block on to the workspace (the white section in the middle of the page). You will see in the pane to the right that the code of this block is automatically generated for you.
The input/output category contains all the blocks you will need for working with lights, sounds, and sensors. Start by dragging some of these into the workspace to see what they do.
The logic category contains all of the if statements and logic blocks, which can be used will with input from sensors and any of the blocks found in the maths category. Will also want to take a look at the loops category which will allow you to repeat sequences of code.
The variables category allows you to create and store text and numbers to be used in different places throughout the code. This is useful for more advanced programs.
Copy and upload
Once you have finished all creating your code, you can either copy it or download an Arduino-compatible file. If you are using our Mac or Windows app, you can hit the upload button to send the code directly to your board.
Save and open files
It’s a good idea to save your finished code file to your computer, in case you want to edit it at a later time. The save button is in the top menu bar, and the adjacent load button can be used the next time you open the website or application.
How does it stack up against alternative options?
When we set out to create an Arduino block coding app, we wanted to create the easiest option for teachers and students to use. Here’s why we think our (free) offering is better than some of the other options out there.
One of Ardublockly’s biggest limitations is the fact that it’s no longer maintained. The web app is quite buggy and the desktop applications no longer seem to work at all.
Code Kit allows you to upload code directly to your Arduino board, without the Arduino IDE installed (unlike Ardublockly). We also test our apps extensively to make sure they work on both Windows and Mac.
There’s just something special about writing code and see it physically do something in the real world, whether that’s making an LED blink or setting off a series of extremely annoying noises. (Check out our Amazing Annoyatron if you’re into that sort of thing.)
Code Kit lets students see their code actually doing things in the physical world. Really, it’s something special.
What’s the cost?
Cost? There’s no cost. Code Kit is, and always will be, completely free for you to use inside the classroom and out.
How do I get started?
Get started and have a play around on your first project by heading to the Code Kit web app.
No software download is required, unless you’re looking to upload code directly to your Arduino board. In that case, head to our Code Kit webpage on the main EduKits site for the Mac and Windows software downloads.
Yikes! Something on the app isn’t working!?!
Yeah, that’s not good, and we apologise. Code Kit is a new app, so there will be a few bumps here and there and some things might not work as expected while we’re ironing them out.
3D printing is an amazing new tool for teaching and learning in the classroom. However, we know it can often be difficult to find engaging projects to do with your students.
Don’t worry: we’ve done the work for you. Here are our top 15 3D design apps for education. Some are super-easy to use (see Tinkercad), whilst others require a bit of tech savvy (Blender, we’re looking at you).
1. PrintLab Classroom
Difficulty: Very Low.
This one’s our absolute favourite. PrintLab Classroom is an all-in-one web app that includes lesson plans, teacher training and a student portal. There are heaps of activities to do with your class, so we guarantee you’ll always have something to teach.
If you’re new to 3D printing (or if it’s still a little confusing), PrintLab is a great option as it guides you through all the basics. Learn how 3D printing works, the best printer settings and the secrets of managing printing in the classroom.
It’s probably a bit cheesy to rank one of our own products in the top position here, but don’t just take our word for it. We’d love for you to have a free trial (no card details required – we’re not like that) to test it out in your classroom.
Difficulty: Very Low.
Need a free, easy-to-use app for 3D design? Look no further than Tinkercad. An 8-year-old with no technical experience can figure out how to use it in under 10 minutes, so we’re sure you’ll be able to as well.
You can download Tinkercad to your class iPads and it’ll run on your laptops or desktops, too. You won’t be waiting months for the IT people to install anything: there’s no software to download, just visit the website and start creating.
Your kids will be able make some really cool things in SculptGL. The best part is once they’re finished, you can download them for 3D printing.
This one’s a lot more hands-on than the others we’ve already listed, but Blender is great for older high-school students. It’s important to note that it does require a software download, will only run on laptop or desktop computers, and will take a little time to learn. However, the models you can make are amazing.
The 3D software from Autodesk is basically the industry standard. It’s used in engineering, architecture, electronics and more. Fusion 360 is part of the Autodesk suite, and it’s what your students will likely be using when they go to university.
Essentially, Fusion 360 is a powerful piece of CAD software used to design functional parts. It can easily export files for 3D printing, laser cutting and CNC milling.
If you’re working on an Arduino project, one of the important questions you might be asking is: which ones are the PWM pins?
Our helpful table below covers this information for almost all Arduino boards. Keep reading for more information about each of the boards.
Arduino Uno, Nano or Mini
3, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11
Arduino Leonardo, Micro, Yún
3, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 13
Arduino WiFi Rev. 2
3, 5, 6, 9, 10
Arduino MKR Boards
0-8, 10, A3 (18), A4 (19)
Arduino MKR1000 Wifi
0-8, 10, 11, A3 (18), A4 (19)
3-13, A0 (14), A1 (15)
3, 5, 6, 9
Arduino Uno, Nano or Mini
PWM Pins: 3, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11
The PWM pins for these three boards are the same, and there are a total of 6 of these pins on each board. If this is too few for your project, you might want to look at a beefier (but more expensive) board like the Arduino Mega.
PWM Pins: 2 – 13, 44 – 46
The Mega is a much bigger board than the well-known Arduino Uno, and has a total of 14 PWM pins. This can be useful for larger projects requiring more power, or simply more pins.
Arduino Leonardo, Micro, Yún
PWM Pins: 3, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 13
The Leondardo, Micro and Yún boards also share the same PWM pins. Especially handy to know if you have all three of them.
Arduino WiFi Rev. 2
PWM Pins: 3, 5, 6, 9, 10
This board is basically an Arduino Uno (it looks similar, too) but has a WiFi chip on-board. It’s got one less PWM pin than the UNO, so this might not be the board for you if you’re looking at using 6 of them.
Arduino MKR Boards
PWM Pins: 0 – 8, 10, A3 (18), A4 (19)
Arduino MKR1000 Wifi
PWM Pins: 0 – 8, 10, 11, A3 (18), A4 (19)
PWM Pins: 3 – 13, A0 (14), A1 (15)
The Zero is a 32-bit board and provides a dramatic increase in performance over other offerings in the Arduino range.
It’s important to note that, unlike most other boards on this list, the Arduino Zero only tolerates 3.3 volts. Running anything higher through the IO pins (PWM included) could cause damage to your board, i.e. fry it. Not good!
PWM Pins: 2-13
PWM Pins: 3, 5, 6, 9
The 101 board is now discontinued, but packed a lot of sensors and features right onto the board making it popular with hobbyists and tinkerers. Don’t get it confused with the Arduino Uno – they both look similar, but have very different PWM pin configurations.
Flicking through the pages of this months Connector Magazine published by the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) you will find an article on EduKit’s teen founder Michael Nixon.
As a previous winner of an AIIA iAwards the follow up article highlights the recent work Michael has been doing to bring industry relevant training to teachers deploying 3D printing experiences in their classrooms.
The AIIA is Australia’s peak representative body and advocacy group for those in the digital ecosystem. As part of their service to the industry they run an annual awards program which highlights just some of the digital innovation happening within Australia.
A copy of the March 2020 connector magazine is available here.
PrintLab Classroom is a creative lesson plan portal for teachers looking to integrate 3D printing into core topics such as science, technology, engineering, arts, maths, computing, geography, history, languages and more. Phew! There’s a lot in there.
We’re really proud of the product so far, but there’s heaps more to come in 2020. EduKits would love to tell you all about it.
1. New Student Learning Portal.
The PrintLab Teacher Portal has been extremely popular with educators worldwide. Teachers have access to a comprehensive curriculum, lesson plans and accredited professional development through the portal.
Now, users can look forward to the release of our Student Learning Portal this coming year.
Students will be able to access the portal via a ‘class code’. No student information is captured.
All PrintLab licences will include access to the Student Portal and will receive a unique class code.
Note that there will be a limit to the maximum number of students able to access the portal at one time, depending on your license (teacher or site).
We’re extremely excited about the work done so far and can’t wait to share the final product with our educators around the globe!
2. Bring 3D scanning into the classroom.
3D printing offers students so many amazing design opportunities. 3D scanning brings even more to the table.
That’s why we’ve decided to incorporate 3D scanning into the PrintLab Classroom.
In the new lessons being developed, you can expect to see amazing resources introducing students to reverse engineering, orthotics and more. The 3D scanning curriculum will be developed in partnership with leading manufacturer Shining3D, together with industry and education experts.
We know that not all schools have access to a 3D scanner, which is why all of our lessons will include 3D scan data for those who don’t. However, those with one on hand will have even more flexibility, freedom and opportunities.
3. Full integration of Fusion 360 tutorials.
At launch, the CAD foundation for PrintLab Classroom was Tinkercad, a popular and free in-browser app. This made it easy for schools to get started with 3D design and printing, removing cost and knowledge limitations normally present with CAD.
However, especially in high schools, some teachers were looking for more advanced CAD lessons. Last year saw the introduction of new Fusion 360 tutorials into existing plans, allowing older students to experience industry-standard software whilst still at school.
This year, there’s going to be even more of this content. By the second quarter, you can expect all of our lessons to include Fusion 360 tutorials and alternative lesson structures, ensuring each topic can be adapted for students aged 8-16.
4. 3D Printing for more students. No matter where.
Our PrintLab classroom is already available in a variety of international languages, including English, Polish, Greek, Dutch and French. We believe that 3D design and printing is for everyone, and aim to share it with as many people as we can around the globe. It has always been the mission of PrintLab to inspire the next generation on a global scale.
This coming year, you can expect to see the Classroom supporting even more languages, including Spanish.