“I love SketchUp because it is the most fun and challenging computer program that I have ever used. The most challenging project that I have done is the castle and my personal project of me making a temple.” -Patrick, age 12
“I’ve always loved to use creativity and to make amazing things. And I feel that SketchUp has allowed me to do both. SketchUp is an awesome program that lets me create whatever however I want. With it, I could build anything from small, humble homes to immense and incredible castles. With SketchUp, the options are limitless.”-Diego, age 12
If you are looking for a tool that can be used in any subject matter to thoroughly engage students, SketchUp is what you are after! The program reminds students of games like the Sims and keeps learning interesting. After teaching my 7th grade students the basic tools and techniques of the program, one student immediately went home and downloaded the free version. A few nights later he emailed me a project of an Asian temple (left) that he created on his own. Like Legos, which engage the imagination, so can models created in SketchUp. The program develops student’s creativity as well as spatial understanding of objects. Look below for ways to build Sketchup into any subject area. As an elective CAD teacher, this program is key to my class, but it can be used in any subject matter. In math class, the program can be used on small assignments to understand various math principles (see below) If you are a one-to-one teacher in any subject area, use one class period to teach students the basics of the program. Then assign self paced tutorials as suggested homework. If not one-to-one, show basic ideas of the program in your own classroom displayed on your projector screen, or take students to the computer lab. When students are done with required work, they can use time to work on a project for your class. Various ideas for assignments in every major subject is found below.
“I mainly like SketchUp because it will help me towards my goal of being a graphics artist for video games. I also like SketchUp because it gives me something to do that encourages my creative side.” -Corbin, age 13
Ways to Use SketchUp in Every Subject:
- Sketchup is completely full of mathematics. Every structure built has mathematic principles attached. Use sketchup so students can visual shapes, convert measurements, and understand the concept of scale and proportion. Lessons could be a 15 minute warmup or entire projects by having them create a scaled model of their room. Teach complex geometrical principles by having students create shapes with the program. Then use the tape measure tool to figure out measurements to find the area of the shapes.
- It will engage students in literature. Students can crete the setting of the main area in the book. Sketchup allows students to think critically and return to the text to get textual evidence to decide how to build their scenes. Have students defend their structure in collaborative conversations to their peers as students ask questions as to why they made the choices that they did. A student of mine suggested that students could also create the settings for their original stories. I like this as creativity begats creativity!
- It engages students in history. Students can build the map/pyramid/castle/missions/residence of any historical figure or time period. For students to really understand the building and its magnificence have them model and label it. Talk about increasing vocabulary. Students were heard asking each other how to create turrets and a portcullis for their castle. They will spend more hours studying the right dimensions than most other types of assignments. Below is a 7th grade student’s project and reflection:
Sketchup also has a place in PE. You could have students research the official dimensions of the area the sport is played on. Students will engage in researching the official sizes of the fields and courts. Students could also create models of the various sizes and shapes of balls and other types of equipment for each sport. A really great idea came from a student of mine who suggested an assignment in which students diagramed football plays.
It is perfect for scientific models. When students create models to scale they gain an in depth understanding of the object they design. Students can create some of the smallest particles such as an atom or the largest areas such as entire solar systems or galaxies. They could create 3D models of cells in the body or DNA strands. A creative student of mine thought that students could recreate a lab and have creative lab results shown in 3D by diagramming test tubes and labelling the compounds and solutions used.
- Students can create a monument of their own to showcase achievements and awards. In my own classroom students create a museum and showcase digital artwork they have completed in a previous design course. They combined their work into a museum with other famous works of art. This teaches math, scaling, and modeling not only enhances engagement and creativity but could be made into a movie so students can share their various accomplishments. Below is a movie a student of mine created.
Students see how the program can help in various subject matters. Here are a few reflections of ways students thought SketchUp could help them learn in other classes: