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MDE:Sketchup in the Classroom

Doug Paulson, K-12 STEM specialist at the Minnesota Department of Education shared information about the state license Minnesota has for Sketchup Pro, a Computer Aided Design program.
The Pro version can be translated into other CAD programs as well, and it can be shared within presentations to show 3D drawings and build understanding of the real world. 
Paulson shared how the flow of ideas between the practice of science to the practice of engineering to the interactions of science, engineering and society can be set up on each grade level.
Paulson had us open Sketchup and begin learning to use the tools.


He discussed how using these tools, and allowing students to add the colors and textures that they wanted allowed them to explore design. With 4th graders, he had them design solar ovens, and then had them discuss why their design would be the best. Then he had them actually build and test it out.

This can be used to have students build bridges or other structures, and put them into Google Earth, to see how their design works with the world around it. Geolocation can be added to the 3D model. Through the 3D warehouse, other structures already created, like the Minnesota Capital can be added.

Paulson asked the following questions to discuss with colleagues:
  1. How might this support instruction?
  2. How does this scaffold through instruction?
  3. What support systems might need to be developed?

I talked about this with staff from St. Louis Park, and we discussed the great applications for multiple subject levels, but also the need for training of staff and students, as well as the need for this to work on multiple devices. Right now, it is limited to Mac and PC.

We then came back and shared ideas on how Sketchup might be used.

  • Do develop a game space
  • Redesign a space
  • Design a building in your community
  • Use primary sources to recreate buildings from a historical era.
I see this as a great tool for the "maker" in all of us as a way to meet many curricular standards. I was reminded of the Wireframe program, Wireman, I used with my students in the early 1990's, that allowed us to FTP files to a Cray XMP SuperComputer at Lawrence Livermore Labs. After a few hours, we were able to download an 8-bit rendered movie with color and light sources in place. Students motivation to create in that space gave them a better understanding of the X-Y-Z axis than any Geometry class I had taught. They saw the real world application right away,and it made sense to them. Sketchup can do all of that and more, without having to wait hours to see the results!

How might you use it?

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