Innovative Designer
Tinkercad workman image


Tinkercad is a free online application that quickly allows students to virtually design three-dimensional objects and create files for 3D printing. A 3D printer is not required, although without printing projects will remain in the virtual realm. There are step-by-step lessons and projects available at no cost. Tinkercad has an option where teachers may send out an invite code for ease in setting up student accounts along with the ability to moderate students under 13. No experience necessary! You may learn how to use this program by completing guided tutorials.

Students will:

  • Understand how to use a computer-assisted design application to design and create three-dimensional projects.
  • Be able to evaluate designs by utilizing feedback provided by a computer-assisted instruction application and use this feedback to make revisions as needed.
  • Be able to create innovative artifacts using a deliberate design process.

Vocabulary Words:

  1. Innovative Artifact: An innovative artifact is an original project using a technology tool that is created to share information in a creative manner.
  2. Design Process: The design process is a step-by-step design process that helps one to generate ideas, test them, and solve problems.
  3. Digital Tools: The use of digital tools, such as computer-assisted design software, to create an artifact.
  4. Computer-Assisted Design (CAD): The use of computer systems (or workstations) to aid in the creation, modification, analysis, or optimization of a design
  5. Computer-Assisted Instruction (CAI): CAI is a program of instructional material presented by means of a computer or computer systems.
  6. Prototype: A prototype is the project draft that will be shared and shown for feedback for improvement.
  7. Scale: A scale is the relative size of something.
  8. Rotate: To rotate is to move or cause to move in a circle around an axis or center.
  9. Shortcuts: Shortcuts are a quick way to use your keyboard using a series of two-three keys. 
    • Ctrl c- copy
    • Ctrl v- paste
    • Ctrl z- undo

To prepare for this activity:

  • View this video for a quick overview of what Tinkercad can do and how to use it. 

  • Specific tutorials breaking down skills into manageable parts suitable for elementary students are available in the Learn section and require an account to login. Students will also use these tutorials. Complete the tutorials prior to teaching to become familiar with the different basic skills.

  • Set up student accounts. Tinkercad has an option where an invite code may be distributed for ease of setup along with the ability to moderate students under 13.

  • Review projects available on the Learn section. Note that there is a separate tab for the projects. Projects will not be completed in the first session and may be selected in any order. Alternatively, you make opt to create an independent project where students initiate their own designs. 

  • Scroll to the bottom of the Learn section for Tinkercad shortcuts if you prefer to teach using shortcuts.

See Accommodations Page and Charts on the 21things4students.net site in the Teacher Resources. 

Directions for this activity:

  1. Students login to their accounts.
  2. The teacher is also logged in to model steps.
  3. The teacher introduces what Tinkercad is, and explains what computer-assisted design programs do.
  4. Optionally, you can show them the three-minute tutorial so they have an idea of what Tinkercad is and what it can do.  
  5. Provide a few examples of use, such as to create prosthetic arms, hooks for use in the classroom, etc.
  6. Begin the first basics tutorial modeling step-by-step. Explain to students that the directions are written along the left navigation panel. Alternate modeling steps with students completing them.
  7. The first four basic lessons may be completed in one session.
    1. Learning the Moves
    2. Camera Controls
    3. Creating Holes
    4. Scale Copy and Paste

Optional Activity: The last two basics are quite useful, but will extend beyond a 20-minute session.  It is recommended that these two tutorials are completed prior to beginning the projects that are offered on the site. Once the series of lessons are completed students will also be ready to complete independent projects.

NOTE: If you are interested in printing projects, but do not have access to a printer check with your local ISD. Additionally, there are online vendors who will print projects for a fee.


Different options for assessing the students:

  • Observations
  • Check for understanding
  • The Tinkercad tutorials are designed with built-in feedback for students.
  • Students may submit a screenshot of each lesson demonstrating mastery to the teacher if desired.

MITECS: Michigan adopted the "ISTE Standards for Students" called MITECS (Michigan Integrated Technology Competencies for Students) in 2018.

Innovative Designer
4a. Students know and use a deliberate design process for generating ideas, testing theories, creating innovative artifacts or solving authentic problems.
4b. Students select and use digital tools to plan and manage a design process that considers design constraints and calculated risks.
4c. Students develop, test and refine prototypes as part of a cyclical design process.
4d. Students exhibit a tolerance for ambiguity, perseverance and the capacity to work with open-ended problems.

Device: PC, Chromebook, Mac, iPad 

Browser: Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Edge, ALL

3D Keychain Printing Project


Tinkercad Learn Section

Tinkercad Tutorial Video

  • 4.MD.1 Students design and create objects and use these to understand the relative sizes of mm and cm.

  • Students will express cm in terms of mm (for example, 3.2 cm is 32 mm). Students may notate in a conversion table the dimensions of the object(s) showing cm and mm.

  • P.EN.04.51 Demonstrate how electrical energy is transferred and changed through the use of a simple circuit by building and adapting circuits on Tinkercad. See the Circuits tab in the Learn section for circuits basics and projects.
  • 3-5 ETS-1-1 and 3-5 ETS-1-2 Design a keychain utilizing the engineering design process meeting specified criteria and constraints.

4.G2.01 Describe ways in which the United States can be divided into different regions by designing models of different regions using Tinkercad.

This task card was created by Patricia Paxton, Armada Area Schools, February 2018.