I'm a middle school technology teacher and my school is thinking of making 3D

I’m a middle school technology teacher and my school is thinking of making 3D printing part of the curriculum, I need suggestions on types of projects to do with 7th and 8th graders. Any good ideas?

Teach them how to use OpenSCAD with an easy project like a cylindrical container with a press fit lid.

@Stephen_Baird For middle schoolers, I think SketchUp would be a much better choice

You should have a unit where the students need to take a real world object, measure it (using a micrometer/caliper), and reproduce it in some kind of 3D CAD software, then convert it to a print-ready STL.

Something simple and geometric, like a lego block or a carrying case for playing cards - along those lines.

That’s a variety of skills being used together to do something that is actually quite useful.

I would look at FreeCad, sketchUp is not really designed for 3D modeling and is architecture oriented.

that would probably be easier in openscad than sketchup.
openscad would be good as its an intro to programming too. a pot with a pressfit lid would be simple as pie. could be done in very few lines, and the students would get to see immediate results.

As a programmer, I really don’t like OpensCad scripting language. Take a look at http://openjscad.org/ - its much nicer and browser based.

@Shachar_Weis CoffeeSCAD is also great. It’s OpenJSCAD built around Coffeescript, which makes it very expressive and simple. Great as an instruction.

I totaly agree @Shachar_Weis I was really comparing code vs non code methods here. I’ve not tried openjscad, but I do like coffeescad.

I’ve never heard of Coffeescript. I have to say that the syntax is, well, weird. I would not recommend Coffeescript to someone starting out in programming as most languages don’t look like that (and for a good reason).

Interestingly, a very similiar story just came out today about 3D printing lessons in a middle school class - http://www.dailyprogress.com/news/article_b42d8608-8aad-11e2-b4b1-001a4bcf6878.html

not as weird as perl.
it’s a scripting language.
it’s easy to learn.
it’s half as much typing as java.
The reason to teach programming is not to get used to a specific syntax, but to exercise reasoning and logic skills as well as a number of different math disciplines, where 3d modeling can excel at.

I’d say it depends on in what context you want to teach it: geometry, physics, engineering, programming, design, art, etc? For example, if you are teaching geometry, having them design something with one of the programming languages like openscad will let them see how translation, rotation, scaling, angles, etc. are critical to understand. If it is more about the design side of engineering (prototyping, testing, refining, etc), then the tools are less important than the process.

Adding @Gregor_Luetolf & @Kurt_Meister who are doing exactly this

@Joey_Paul_Agabiti Have a look at our project GüggelTown http://www.3drucken.ch/p/gueggeltown.html. The students of 8.&9. grade used the tools http://tinkercad.com and SketchUp to design and print their own buildings to form a city in the end.

@Joey_Paul_Agabiti As @Gregor_Luetolf already mentioned: Go for tools like TinkerCad and SketchUp, but drop OpenSCAD.