If you’re wondering what to do with the kids this half term and fancy something that’s educational and fun, let them loose on SOLIDWORKS’ new beta Apps For Kids.
Whether it’s designing their own 3D toy, making moving spiral art or even a colour-by-numbers page of their artistic design – there are SIX apps (CAPTURE IT, SHAPE IT, STYLE IT, MECH IT, SHOW IT, PRINT IT) that they can easily switch between to turn their wildest creations into a reality.
Aimed at children aged 4 to 14, SOLIDWORKS app engineer Chinloo Lama says it’s an easy way to get kids used to playing with CAD tools and start believing a career in design and engineering isn’t just about being good at science or maths. “Just because they like to draw doesn’t mean engineering isn’t in your future,” she says.
SOLIDWORKS Apps For Kids recently won the Editor’s Choice Award 2017 at the NYC Maker Faire, so could it captivate the imagination of one family with a spot of designing at home?
NT CADCAM asked Daisy, 13, Chloe, 10 and Tom eight to have a play and design something for their room.
With a bit of parental guidance from mum to get them started, they watched the intro video
and were soon pinging ideas around of what they could design. Of course, they all wanted to try it at the same time. Fortunately, the app works on Macs and Windows so they could divide up the various screens that they had around the house (spent 20 minutes discussing what their very important user names would be and which Avator to have) and then finally they were off.
Here’s what they got up to:
Tom, aged 8:
Like most young boys, Tom wanted to run before he could walk. He immediately wanted to design a Storm Trooper or Power Ranger, which felt just slightly on the ambitious side for a first try. Luckily, SOLIDWORKS Apps for Kids allows you to do just that. You can copy a project from the public gallery using the duplicate command and then a copy will appear in your project page to edit it anyway you like. This was a great way for Tom to play around with the SHAPE IT controls, stretching and contorting someone else’s squirrel or rocket into unrecognisable lumps to get a feel for the tools.
Soon he had the confidence to try his own design from scratch. He’d seen a design of a PAC-MAN and wanted to create his own from scratch. Importing a ‘globe shape’, he was soon spinning the shape around to check surfaces and repair areas with which he wasn’t quite happy. He then discovered the MECH IT app with touch-friendly, snap together shapes, pistons, bi-directional motors and pins which helped him draw his own spiral art.
“I really liked the MECH IT App. I made lots of spirals. The public gallery gave me ideas of what I could design. I saw someone had made a moving spiral art shape and I worked out how to copy the design for myself. Once I had made one spiral art, I could duplicate it to add lots more and change the colours if I wanted to. It was fun.”
Chloe aged 10:
After watching the help videos, Chloe was quickly up and running. Left to her own devices, Chloe wanted to design a unicorn pen pot. She selected basic 3D shapes to get started and then using the SHAPE IT command, manipulated the surfaces to get the desired shape and curves. After 30 minutes, she had the shape she wanted and then it was time to customise her unicorn with the STYLE IT command. She then had the option to PRINT IT. We’ve sent her design as an .std file to our product partners at Laser Lines to realise her design, but if you don’t have access to a 3D printer, SOLIDWORKS Apps For Kids also has options for 2D printing, whether it’s a picture of your app, a net to make a cube of your design or a colour-by-numbers print out.
Chloe says: “I was so stuck at the beginning but after I played with the SHAPE IT app for a while, I got the hang of it and designing became really fun. The hardest part was getting the shape right and the best part was choosing the stickers. Although it was tricky sometimes trying to remove a sticker if I’d placed it in the wrong place.”
Daisy, aged 13
Daisy really enjoyed pulling the different shapes together in SHAPE IT to create one 3D model and using STYLE IT to add her own personal touch. In STYLE IT, she could let her artistic side flow with colours, stickers and backgrounds to see how it would look in a room setting.
Daisy says, “I wanted to make a pot holder to put my make-up brushes in. It was fun throwing lots of different shapes around and experimenting with how they fitted together. It looked a lot easier than it was. I watched all the videos but still got stuck in places. I would have liked more help with problem solving or step-by-step tutorials to see how I could really get the shape I wanted.”
Are your kids ready to create?
Visit the SOLIDWORKS Apps For Kids website and sign up for the free trial.