Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Cookie Caster

By now, I've gotten a couple of 3D printing classes for teens under my belt. But I wanted to branch out to the tweens somehow and introduce them to this awesome technology. Thanks to School Library Journal, I got the idea to run a class for tweens (grades 3 to 5) using a program called Cookie Caster.

This program was super easy to run! Kids can create their own design either by using points (anchors) and lines to design something freehand, or by tracing an image from the web using a tool called Magic Trace. They can then preview their creations as a cookie cutter and download it as a .stl file for printing.

Drawing Freehand Example

Magic Trace Example

First, I showed the tweens our 3D printer. I had asked IT to have a cookie cutter printing at the start of class so that everyone could see what it looked like to print something. I quickly explained the basic parts of the printer and how the filament comes out to make a print. Then I passed around some cookie cutter examples that I had made ahead of time, so they could see what the filament felt like. I also showed them some other prints that our IT department had made to show off the different things the printer could do. This was probably the part the tweens got the most excited about!

Next, I went over the basic controls. I showed the tweens how to create the anchors and how to add/delete edges. Then I showed them how to use the Trace and Magic Trace features (Note: The Magic Trace tool doesn't always work. It depends on the image you choose.). I also showed them the Gallery and how to upload/alter someone else's design.

At the end of class, I went around and downloaded everyone's design to a flash drive to print out later. I also showed them how to create an account and save their designs for later if they wanted to. The entire program took about an hour. Here are some cookie cutter examples I created:

How It Went:

The program overall went pretty smoothly!

Unfortunately, the image search wasn't working, so I showed them how to find something on Google Images and upload it to the Cookie Caster program. I was hoping that more of them would create an original design freehand, but once they learned about the tracing option, most wanted to just do that instead. Oh well...

 I chose to host it in December as a sort-of holiday program since baking and gift giving can be a big part of that time of year. I gave participants a choice of having their cookie cutter printed with red, green, or white filament. Our wonderful IT department then spent the next couple of days printing out everyone's design. I then notified everyone as their cookie cutters were finished and ready for pick-up.

Have you done a Cookie Caster program before? Or what other 3D printing programs have you done for tweens?

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