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Picture of Custom Coins and Medallions

Custom Coins and Medallions

Math, Social Studies, English, Science, Grades 3 - 8

Lesson Overview Students use Tinkercad to design and create original coins, medallions, or other decorative items that depict the important features of a person, place, thing, or concept. Using a few simple design rules, students can put pictures and/or text on both the top and the bottom, reshape the coin, and easily 3D print the items without supports. For beginning Tinkercad users, coins offer easy success - the flat design doesn’t require complex supports in order to print properly, and very few graphics are needed to complete the design. Once printed, custom coins can be displayed, shared, or - depending on the content of the coin - used as teaching tools.

This project is structured to follow the Engineering Design Process (EDP), a process that helps designers in any discipline create solutions to problems. While there are many ways that people solve problems, designers often use the EDP because it offers a clear roadmap for them to follow as they work towards a solution. First, designers Define the challenge they are facing, then Learn more about the problem and Explore existing solutions. It’s tempting to skip these first few steps and head straight into brainstorming, but don’t! When designers take the time to understand the problem clearly, they come up with much better solutions. The Design phase is where brainstorming happens. Designers brainstorm multiple possible solutions, then develop a few of them into more detailed plans. Encourage your students to plan at least 3 of their potential ideas before choosing a design direction and starting to Create a product based on their design. If they hit any roadblocks trying to create their first design choice, they’ll be able to revisit their alternate design plans and choose a new direction - without starting from scratch. Designers then take time to Observe their design and see how they can Improve it. We strongly recommend that students have an opportunity for at least 2 Create-Observe-Improve cycles. When students feel they have to “get it right the first time,” they are less willing to take risks and be creative. By repeating the cycle, they have a chance to fix flaws and adopt successful ideas from classmates, and in fact, they’re practicing what professional designers really do. A good design cycle builds in time for the designer to Reflect on their product and the process of making it, looking for learning habits and insights that will help in future challenges. When the work is complete, designers are ready to Share. They bring their work into the real world, by posting, publishing, presenting, or exhibiting - or giving or selling if appropriate! - what they’ve made. For students working through a design process, a real audience helps students connect their learning and work experiences to the world outside the classroom. For Makerspaces and Maker projects, in particular, this is hugely important for building confidence in every student and a sense of community among Makers. To help students work through this process, be sure to build in planned “stops” at each step for students to record their thoughts and progress as they work through product iteration cycles.

Essential Question(s)

How can we use graphic design to summarize and represent key attributes of a person, place, thing, or concept?

How can the design process and 3D modeling tools be useful tools in creating meaningful artifacts?

Time Required: 2-3 Hours design time

Skills Practiced: Critical analysis The Design Process 3D modeling in Tinkercad Symbolic Communication Materials Needed: Sketch paper and pencils Tinkercad Miscellaneous prototyping materials (paper, cardstock, foam sheets, markers, etc.) 3D Printer and filament.

Step 1: Define

Context

Coins show important slogans, symbols, and personalities from history, mythology, and nature. But why? Simple words and images allow designers to clearly communicate in a limited amount of space - pick up any coin and look at the words and images. Ask yourself: where is this coin from? What is that country’s government trying to say about itself on that coin? Who are its heroes? What are their values? Does the country’s image on the coin match the image in your head?

Giving students the chance to design their own coin (or medallion, award, etc.) is a perfect opportunity for students to:

  • Practice using graphic design as a communication tool.
  • Develop awareness of symbolism by using it themselves.
  • Develop awareness of visual arts and writing as works intentionally created by an artist or writer.

Simple prompts for 2-3 hour projects allow first-time Tinkercad users to focus on learning the software - students who are already skilled with Tinkercad can be assigned complex, higher-order-thinking prompts that require additional time for intense research, collaboration, design, and sharing. Consider the example of these two social studies prompts:

Simple: state shapes with an important landmark or product on 1 side, and a study question on the other.

Complex: class designs a “treasure hunt” game or exhibit that leads players through all 50 states, where the coin designs for each state form a portion of each clue.

Challenge:

Students create a coin or medallion that commemorates something important or interesting to them, following a theme that the teacher assigns. (E.g., a real or fictional country, social group, public figure, team etc.) Students will fabricate their work using Tinkercad and 3D printers.

Criteria:

  • The coin must memorialize or celebrate something.
  • The coin has at least 2 of the following features:
    • Legible text.
    • 1 or more pictures.
    • Meaningful shape (other than circular).

Constraints:

  • Size constraints: Max height: 0.2 in, Max area 6 square inches.
  • Max print time: 30 minutes.

Student Product / Learning Goals

A custom-designed, 3D printed coin or medallion.