Kids and CAD – where to start and how to succesfully teach

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Lego Digital Designer – Lego brick Icon

At progeCAD, we are well aware the future is our children. However, todays kids will exist in an entirely different working world when they are part of the work force. What will CAD look like? What will a day at the office look like? No one can be sure. What we do know, is how to spark creativity, and build the foundation of design, so if our children do decide they have a passion for creating, they will be well suited for the journey.

A few tips:

  • Play is key, children learn and retain when instruction is minimal and they are enjoying their time. We recommend children playing games, both tactile andĀ online. Turn of chatting devices within online games, and put the game in ‘creative’/’creator’ mode and let your child go. Being close by for help and suggestions is a very important tool for children who are just starting new games.
  • Interruptions can be devastating to a child on the brink of discovering new information. Although ‘screen time’ may be up, or you have somewhere to be, if you can see a different enthusiasm or focus in your childs eyes, try to have the flexibility and patience to let them work through whatever concept they are mastering.
  • When they are finished with their game, spend a good amount of time (10-20 minutes) discussing what they accomplished. They may tell you about the dragons, and zombies, or cars and spaceships – and it may all sound like imaginary play, but if you are offering your child the right tool, they will be building and creating these lands on their own.

Our favorite kid friendly CAD tools:

  • My very favorite CAD ‘game’ is Lego Digital Designer. For kids who are just making the jump from their tactile learning to introducing software, the lego blocks are familiar and limitless. It’s absolutely free and is available for Mac and Windows!!
  • Another great and free kids CAD program is TINKERCAD . This program was created by Autodesk and is a bit more complex than the Lego software. It is very much grooming children for CAD, but has great tutorials and builds simple skills with fun projects and easy photos. The rendering is bright, cheery, and includes fast food and race cars!! This is definitely one to check out. FYI – There’s been quite a bit of fuss about Autodesk taking away their free education tools (123Dapp) in the middle of a school year, so definitely don’t go out and write a manuscript or lesson plan – as these programs seem to get the cord pulled on them pretty quickly.
  • Makers Empire is also a great 3D software and printing option. The free version ha the software and monthly challenges. The interface is pretty impressive, and has the flexibility for kindergarten-8th grade. This program would be very impressive to have in the classroom with a 3D printer, but the home version is fun as well.
  • Engineering for Kids is a company that has hands on classes, camps, and parties. If there is one in your area and you have a few extra dollars to spend, it’s a FUN way to get your kids excited about all things STEM related (not to get too buzz wordy with you).
  • and last, but certainly not least, Masters in Data Science compiled a great list of resources that you can find here . There are such great resources on this list, it’s one I will be referencing a lot for my own kids!

Are there any apps, or software that I missed that you let your little one play a little too long on?

If you’re an educator, don’t forget we give our Software away for free to schools – just fill out this form, and we’ll get your school or classroom set up!