3D Printing and Math Common Core Standards: What They Have in Common


Recently we tweeted this amazing infographic posted at Edudemic about how incredible LEGOs are as a tool for education. We play with LEGOs ourselves – what self-respecting adult doesn’t? – but it brings to mind just why we focus on 3D printing as an incredibly powerful component of the City X Project workshop. With many 3D printers available for under $1000, they’re working their way into classrooms, and they can be an extraordinarily fun tool to for activities that meet Common Core requirements. Here are a few examples relating to mathematics:

A boy in Hungary models basic 3D shapes during a City X Project workshop in Budapest. A boy in Hungary models basic 3D shapes during a City X Project workshop in Budapest.


Model with Mathematics, MP4

Geometry, ratios, and measurements, oh my! What you’re talking about is 3D shapes that can and should be easily manipulated by students for a clearer understanding of mathematic principles and spatial reasoning. Kid-friendly 3D modeling software such as Tinkercad is a great, interactive way to help kids understand these principles.

Attend to Precision, MP6

A student’s ability to specific units of measurement, quantities, and more lends itself spectacularly well to building blocks like LEGOs, but it is also easily applied to 3D printing and modeling. An imprecise digital 3D model will not 3D print effectively. We see this as a frustrating experience for a few kids in every workshop, but it’s a valuable lesson: If a student isn’t fully aware of the various elements of a 3D model, they won’t be able to create a 3D print that’s true to their vision.

Solve Real-World Mathematical Problems Involving Area, Surface Area, and Volume

Geometry can be a difficult thing to grasp on two-dimensional paper. 3D printing allows for a more immersive and tactile experience of geometric methods. 3D modeling software and 3D prints of basic shapes can help students understand the leap from a cube drawn on paper to a cube existing in 3D modeling software (which can be rotated and viewed from every angle) to a cube that’s 3D printed.

Do you know of other resources that combine 3D printing technologies and Common Core Standards? Let us and the other educators that read our blog know about them in the comments!