Design Thinking at 3Doodler

“Why don’t you add Bluetooth? Or have an app? Or put more sensors in it? You can get in the Apple Store!”. But that wasn’t what we were doing, or what 3Doodler is about. Sure it’s tempting to adapt a product and add bells and whistles so that you can sell even more, but at what cost?

What we sacrificed was being able to say we were part of the Internet of things. What we gained was the ability for anyone, tech savvy or not, young or old, smartphone equipped or not, to use our pens.

The idea of a 3D pen is such a new and unexpected concept that it needed to be as simple and easy to learn as possible. A tactile experience, just like using a pen or a pencil.

We’ve stayed true to that philosophy for over four years, and even with the release of the 3Doodler PRO, our most advanced product, it’s all about getting tactile, and eradicating any barriers that might exist between a user and their ability to create what they want.

"It’s about connecting you and your movements with the pen, and there’s no better way to do that than with your hands"-Howard

If anything we’ve been on a mission to make our products even simpler, not more complex; and not more connected or virtual. For example, the PRO has dials where it could have had switches (or an app that communicates with the pen). As a user gently turns those dials the pen responds, raising the speed or the temperature the same way one would gently nudge up the volume on a sound system. It’s about connecting you and your movements with the pen, and there’s no better way to do that than letting people get hands on.

That same tactile experience has also driven much of what we do in education. Back in 2014 we started to work with teachers for the blind and partially sighted, using our pens to draw instant tactile learning aids. In 2015 we ran a case study with a UK-based school and found, conclusively, that the tactile experience of using the 3Doodler gave visual learners a welcome leg-up in class.

Now with the kid-safe 3Doodler Start, which is completely cool to the touch, the scope for getting hands on has jumped another level. Users can touch and mould their Doodles the instant they come out of the pen – and those same blind and partially sighted students now have a pen they can use safely without any concerns about hot plastic.

So while the world is putting iPads in front of kids, or trying to connect everything to the big wide web, we’re putting down the screens and asking you to pick up, feel and craft; to rediscover what you can do with your hands in an unvirtual reality. We’re using the power of touch – and not the screen – to take you back to an era (not that long ago!) when creativity and play meant doing something with your hands.

And it’s working. As we near 2017 we’ll be marking our millionth 3Doodler, with users creating everything from curricular aids, to architectural replicas, 3Doodled dresses and cars, as well as art that is being proudly displayed in galleries worldwide. That’s a staggering win for the tactile, and the reason we’ll always strive for simple and accessible rather than overly-complicated.

Written by Daniel Cowen, Co-Founder & COO

Bring 3D tech to your Classroom

Tactile technology has a huge role to play in the future of education. Whether giving visual learners the tools they need to thrive, levelling the gender gap in STEAM subjects, or making classrooms more engaging places to learn, we want to contribute.

Today we are taking a giant step towards that goal, announcing a Matching Offer with DonorsChoose.org to make 3Doodler more accessible to teachers across the United States. Coupled with our dedicated 3Doodler EDU website, we’re supporting educators with all the resources they need to integrate 3D technology into their classrooms.

Here’s what you can do to help take learning to a new dimension.

What is DonorsChoose.org?

DonorsChoose.org makes it easy for anyone to support a classroom in need, ensuring students in every community have the tools and experiences for a great education.

Connecting the public with educators across the country, DonorsChoose.org lets teachers request materials for their classrooms, and showcases those requests on the DonorsChoose.org platform so that anyone can donate.

Donors can search through projects and choose the ones they want to donate towards. Once the project reaches its goal, DonorsChoose.org purchases the items and delivers them directly to the school, making classroom dreams a reality.

3Doodler & Donorschoose.org

3Doodler has partnered with DonorsChoose.org to double the impact of every donation to projects requesting 3Doodler products for classroom use.

When teachers and educators start a project on DonorsChoose.org and request a 3Doodler EDU bundle for their schools or classroom, 3Doodler will match every donation made to these projects – dollar for dollar.

This means more opportunities for students across the country to get hands-on with 3D tech.

3Doodler’s Place in the Classroom

Put simply, the 3Doodler helps students make physical sense of things that are otherwise hard to understand. What’s more powerful than that?

We’ve always believed that the 3Doodler will be an essential part of any STEAM curriculum, serving as an introduction to emerging tech, 3D creation, and most importantly, a tactile way to explore math and science. Be it Engineering, Art and Design, Computational Thinking, or Geometry, exploring concepts in a project-based and hands-on way enhances engagement and understanding.

Beyond STEAM, teachers and educators continue to surprise us with the array of applications they have found for the 3Doodler. Teachers like Eva Reilly have found ways to bridge subjects using the 3Doodler, like this historical project she introduced to her high school English class. Others are using it to pioneer tactile learning for the blind and visually impaired, creating adaptable learning aids on the fly.

We’re humbled and inspired by this, with educators continuing to show us how 3D technology can be applied to any subject and nearly any lesson.

"As teachers, we learn that hands-on projects help students apply what they learn in school to the world around us – predictable and unpredictable. Students learn that, in the end, everything we learn in school comes together – English, history, math, science, and technology."-Eva Reilly, English Teacher

How You Can Start a 3Doodler Project on Donorschoose.org

For teachers and educators in the United States who want to introduce 3Doodler into your classrooms, we’ll be matching every donation made to your DonorsChoose.org Project (while funds last!).

All you need to do is choose the 3Doodler EDU bundle that's right for your school or classroom:
  • 3Doodler Create EDU 12 pen bundle for larger classrooms with students aged 14+

  • 3Doodler Create EDU 6 pen bundle for smaller-sized classes and projects with students aged 14+

  • 3Doodler Start EDU 12 pen bundle for younger students aged 8+

Once you have chosen the right EDU bundle for you, get your project set up and started on DonorsChoose.org.

Each donation made to your project will have double the impact, with 3Doodler supporting you all the way, matching each dollar donated!

For educators outside the USA, 3Doodler EDU bundles are available from edu.the3Doodler.com, or contact us at [email protected] with any questions, or to find your local distributors and resellers.

A Model Town from a Model Classroom

We often discuss the classroom applications for 3Doodler in STEM subjects, or as a way for students to learn about emerging technologies. But the educational benefits of 3Doodler aren’t just restricted to math and science, as English teacher Eva Reilly shows.

Reilly challenged her high school English class to make a model of their home town – Phillips, Wisconsin – as a way to inspire proper research and learn how to find reliable and trustworthy sources.

The class constructed their eight-foot model of the downtown street as part of their non-fiction unit in their English curriculum. And as with any non-fiction project, the first step is research.

“They read and wrote reviews of articles, memoirs, letters from books, newspapers, periodicals, and the internet about Phillips,” says Reilly.

The students took note of notable historical events that had affected the town, and shaped how it looked – like the Phillips Fire of 1894.

This fire swept through the entire downtown area the students were recreating, levelling many of the original structures. In the rebuilding efforts, the major buildings were required to be made from brick as a fire-safety measure.

"History is not just about events of way back in the day; it is the making of our past, present, and future"

Knowing the history and events which resulted in how the town currently looks gave new meaning to the construction of the model. “After learning about the history of Phillips and its development, students picked business buildings downtown to reconstruct on a scale model,” Reilly says. “They didn’t realize how difficult the project would be at first.”

Students visited the buildings in person, taking photos to use in the construction of their model to make sure they could be as accurate as possible. They also talked to residents with first-hand knowledge of the buildings’ histories and how they had been renovated throughout the years, all while keeping notes in fieldwork journals to chronicle the project.

To create the models, Reilly introduced some cross-subject integration by having the student figure out the correct dimensions for each building using algebra and geometry. “They learned we need math in everything we do, not just in the classroom,” Reilly says. “Sometimes, quite frankly, they were confused as to whether they were in math, science, history, or English class, but the process sure kept them engaged!”

Using 3Doodler pens, the students got to work constructing their model town. They needed to refer to their notes, photos, and research to make the buildings accurate for a realistic model. “The students learned that English is not just reading about fiction or nonfiction material, but it is also a bit of a history lesson,” Reilly says. “History is not just about events of way back in the day; it is the making of our past, present, and future.”

"As teachers, we learn that hands-on projects help students apply what they learn in school to the world around us"

Reilly is continuing the project again with future classes. The model – which is currently on display at the Phillips Public Library – will continue to grow as students each year research a different area of the town.

“As teachers, we learn that hands-on projects help students apply what they learn in school to the world around us – predictable and unpredictable,” explains Reilly. “Students learn that, in the end, everything we learn in school comes together – English, history, math, science, and technology.”

Looking for more ways to bring 3Doodler into your classroom?
Check out our dedicated EDU section for classroom tips, lesson plans, and exclusive EDU bundles for educators.