8 3D Printing Lesson Plans That Reinforce STEAM Learning for Students


Enhance STEAM learning in your classroom with engaging challenges like building racecars, creating 3D puzzles, designing airboats, and more! MakerBot Learning has brought together advanced 3D printing lessons that are as rewarding as they are challenging. Through lessons that involve 3D design and iteration, educators can improve learning retention and reinforce tough concepts. Peruse this fun collection of Thingiverse lesson plans and pick a project that’ll inspire big STEAM exploration in your classroom.


For an exciting leap into the world of physics, math, and electrical engineering, lead your class in creating a GO-GO AirBoat. In this lesson, 11th and 12 grade students create a small, fully motorized propeller airboat. The GO-GO AirBoat features 3D printed pieces made to work with circuits, sensors, and other electronics. Once the boat is assembled and the sensors are working, students are asked to calculate the maximum number of pennies that the GO-GO AirBoat can hold before it begins to sink.

Students must rely on their knowledge of buoyancy and use the water’s volume, the boat’s density, and the penny’s mass to determine how many pennies the boat can hold. Complete with a guide on printing tips, post-processing techniques, mathematical formulas, boat assembly tips, and more, this lesson plan is everything you need to add scientific innovation to your curriculum.


In the Smartphone MP3 Speaker project, students design, print, and wire a custom speaker. In this lesson, they’ll be asked to design and create component pieces in Autodesk Fusion 360 or 123D Design. They’ll soft-solder and populate circuit boards, explore ELV circuits, and learn how to build a functional model from simple component pieces. As Thingiverse designer MakerBoter suggests, this project is an immersive technology lesson for students aged 12 and over, with no previous design experience required.

Advance your students’ design skills with the Introduction to Parametric Customization lesson. Made to give high school students more experience with OpenSCAD, the lesson covers modular and parametric design. Students are tasked with creating a small, refillable pill box that’s secure enough to travel with. The project includes 13 lessons that provide step by step instructions and photos. They’ll learn how to write and use variables, create modules, perform basic design tasks, and make customizable SCAD files. This project helps students develop and reinforce skills they need to create custom functional items using 3D design!


PHOTO: GO-GO AirBoat design on Thingiverse. See Science section for more information.


The Mousetrap Racer lesson is a special spin on the Lever principle, a popular law in physics.
Students are asked to create a mousetrap racecar using the designs and measurements provided. Thingiverse designer Furious encourages students to redesign his files to create their own version of the racecar. Intended for the 5th grade and up, students will learn general CAD skills while exploring basic principles in physics and engineering. This lesson includes downloadable design files, photos, tips and tricks, and more.

Give students a glimpse of how car brakes actually work with the Educational Brake Caliper project. A brake caliper is the part responsible for stopping your car when you press on your brakes. Students learn how a brake caliper works by printing and assembling a full-sized racecar brake caliper. Each piece of the design can be detached and reassembled for further inspection. Designed for ages 9 and up, the project gives your classroom a hands-on, visual understanding of how each piece works.


For a more playful project that’ll inspire the creatives in your classroom, give the Design a Puzzle Cube lesson a try. Middle and high school students who are already familiar with creating 3D cubes and moving objects in 123D Design can put their skills to the test by making their own puzzle cube. Each puzzle must contain 5 pieces, and each piece should contain 4 to 6 cubes. The lesson comes complete with step by step directions, design details, and photos. Students will use spatial reasoning to design and manipulate the cubes, before using them to create a fun puzzle that they can challenge their friends with!


Make math simpler by encouraging pattern recognition with the Tessellation Escher Project. The activity challenges students in the third grade or higher to design and 3D print tessellating shapes. After printing, the shapes should link together as puzzle pieces. The tessellation puzzle, once completed, becomes a pattern that’s easily recognizable. As the students get more familiar with patterns, the tessellation puzzles will become easier and easier to complete! The activity comes with a lesson plan, photos, and links to educational resources that further explain tessellation.

Students in 6th grade and up will benefit the most from Volume Blocks, a two-part project that helps out with learning new formulas. They’ll learn how to use an object’s volume to create measurements for blocks in 123D Design. The lesson starts with students modeling 3D blocks using the dimensions and metrics provided. Then, they’ll have to create their own blocks that will help represent the volume of objects in future math classes. The lesson is complete with a downloadable tutorial, step by step instructions, photos, and instructions for grading. Once printed, the blocks will be a great physical aid to complement theoretical formulas.

To get started in your classroom or for more lesson plans, explore the
MakerBot Learning Collection!