Project: Create-a-Place

Objectives and Overview

This collaborative project emphasizes a combination of 3d printing with other mediums as you’ll be able to decorate and incorporate a cardboard layout into the final product.

Lesson Objectives

  • Work collaboratively as a team to create a medium-scale design.
  • Conduct research to inform your design process.
  • Brainstorm ideas together with your team and make decisions as a team.
  • Engage and develop planning and prototyping skills by creating a design that responds to a challenge prompt.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of scale by designing within a size constraint.
  • Create a plan of action for each team member to complete the design


This design challenge builds teamwork and creativity as you respond to a randomly generated prompt. This challenge often results in interesting and diverse creations!

3D prints sitting on cardboard colored to look like an island

Activity: Create a Place Challenge!

This team challenge is to create a place. First, you’ll spin the Place Randomizer Wheel. After you spin, you’ll receive pre-cut cardboard grids for planning the locations of the structures.

Create a Place 'Randomizer' wheel example

The top wheel is the place and the bottom wheel is the theme. In the above example, the group would make a Pirate City Block. These are meant to be fun and encourage creativity in design. One suggestion for brainstorming is that each group member can research certain parts of the topic. For example, for this topic, I may want to be the person brainstorming how the structures will fit on the grid whereas my partner may want to pull up images of pirate-themed cities from existing movies or games.

  1. Spin the wheel as a group!
  2. Begin brainstorming ideas for structures.
  3. Research some ideas.
  4. Sketch and prototype your design in cardboard. Use this time to consider the details and appearance of your structure.
  5. Work on your structures in Tinkercad. Pay attention to make sure that your version in Tinkercad is the same as your prototype. You should use the size of your prototype as a direct reference.
Closeup of 3D prints made for the Create a Place activity

Create a Place Tips and Tricks

Since each group will have a grid with 1″ x 1″ squares, group members can use this as a guide to help inform the process of transforming the prototype into a digital version in Tinkercad. While prototyping, you should aim to make the cardboard object the exact size so that you can test it on the grid before printing.

Show & Tell

Show & Tell is the time to present your project to the group. The focus is to highlight the making process, and staff will ask guiding questions that you can answer while showing your work. Depending on the project, Show & Tell will happen at each table with each youth group discussing the project with their peers, or groups will present projects at the front of the room. This isn’t a formal presentation where you need to prepare a slide show; think of it as a chance to share your process and experience with the group.

Example questions to consider:

  • What were some of the challenges you came across while working on the project?
  • If you had more time would you do anything differently?
  • What was your favorite part of the project?
  • Did your project turn out as you intended?
  • Did you need to make any changes to the original plan?

These are some examples of guiding questions that the staff may ask during the Show & Tell. You won’t be graded on any answers so think of this as a discussion about your making process.