21 October 2014

Tinkercad Accounts for Students Under 13

[UPDATE: 12 January 2015]

I emailed the folks at Tinkercad a few times in November and December to check on the progress. Never heard a thing... until last week when I got an email. It asked if everything was "sorted out." I explained that was the first contact I'd received in weeks. Turns out three of about a dozen accounts were approved; I need to resend the remaining usernames to find out their status.

[UPDATE: 1 December 2014] 

I don't think many people saw that last sentence, because there hasn't been much luck. 

I submitted my students' forms in late October and no accounts have been approved yet. From what I've been told, I'm the first educator to go through the process and they're learning as they go. I'll add an update when/if the student accounts are approved.

[Original Post Below]

Until today, students under the age of 13 couldn't have their own Tinkercad account to design 3D models. I'm not a lawyer, so I'm not sure what the worry was; I've never seen anything inappropriate on the site. A few months ago, after a series of frustrated tweets, I heard from Sarah King, who works at Tinkercad. She said that changes were on the way. And today, the changes arrived.

Up until this point, I've created generic accounts that my students have used in the library to create 3D models. It wasn't ideal, but it worked. I had students sharing accounts, which became cluttered. And when someone signed out of an account, it signed out all active users on that account. I was so happy when I noticed the changes this morning. 

For students under 13 years old to have an account on Tinkercad, they need to enter a parent's email address. Some of my parents don't have email addresses, so I had the students enter my email address for this part. When the students create the account, it send an email to the parent to approve. Then, you have to print out a parental consent form. There are some obvious access barriers here, but we're rolling with the punches. I printed out the forms for each student, filled in their username and my email address. I've typed up a letter for parents to send home with the consent form. Once the forms are returned, I'll scan them and email them back to Tinkercad. It says it could take 3-5 days for approval. I'm hoping my students can use their own accounts next Monday. 

Wish me luck.

11 October 2014

Reflections on the Global Cardboard Challenge

Well, we did it! Yesterday afternoon, our S.T.E.M. students had an exhibition of their cardboard creations. We had several parents visit, in addition to about twenty students from grades K-5. All together, there were about 85 people in the library, gathered together to celebrate our students' creativity. 

I think I can speak for the students when I say that we're already looking forward to next year! We had a blast and I know next year will be even better because we've all learned so much during the past three weeks. Next year, I'll put much more effort into planning our event. I'd like to think of more organized way to showcase the students' work; yesterday was fun, but a bit chaotic. I'm also considering setting some size limitations. I hate to stifle creativity, but storing projects from forty-five students for a span of three weeks was ... challenging. I'd also start way earlier when it comes to securing donations. We ended up with a lot of cardboard, more than we needed really. But we could have used way more tape. In fact, I'll probably start working on gathering supplies for next year right now. Next year, the students will have the advantage of experience; I can't wait to see what they come up with!

Some of the highlights from this year's creations were a hockey table, a pinball machine, an ATM, two robot costumes, and a red carpet. There were lots of games, moving parts, ticket dispensers, and even prizes.