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STUDENT REPORT: Using 3D Printing & LEGO to Build Personalized Designs

(Image credit: iStock)

LEGO inspires creativity and that allows kids of all ages to build, be innovative, and even make new friends. For example, my friend Declan and I always build LEGO and hang out now because of how much we like LEGO. Before we started building together, we didn't play nearly as much. When I build with Declan, we get closer as friends and that allows us to want to build more, which makes me want to learn more.

One of the fun things Declan and I have started to do is to 3D print special blocks or characters that we want to add to our LEGO builds. We use 3D printing to add a unique touch to our “MOCs”, which stands for My Own Creation. A MOC is when you build your own scenic builds out of LEGO. By 3D printing LEGO blocks, we can make unique new bricks and characters that connect to purchased LEGO bricks. 

3dprinting LEGO bricks has never been easier. There are a lot of sites out there like buildabrick.org that have a collection of thousands of bricks. It is easy to download a brick that you need and 3dprint it. Further, these sites also have “blank” LEGO men that you can 3dprint and then add custom parts, such as a Yoda, head. If your 3dprint these LEGO men in white, you can even paint them.

Sometimes we can’t find what we need on the internet. That means we need to make our own bricks! The process is easy. First, we sketch out the block that we need by hand to make sure we understand how it will fit in our MOC. Then, we use TinkerCAD to create the digital design that we can turn into a block using the 3D printer. TinkerCARD has a Block mode which makes making bricks really easy. Block mode turns whatever you design into a LEGO piece!

I use LEGO designs to make a statement like any artist makes a statement when he or she creates artwork. I see LEGO as my medium for art. That is why we also print 3D characters to add to our MOC scenes. We can 3D print something like army men, but print them so they have the holes in their feet (since we know how big the LEGO knobs are) so they can be put on LEGO bricks before being added to our MOCs.

LEGO allow kids to think for themselves. Building MOCs with LEGO allows kids to learn what they want to learn and helps them realize what they're capable of. For example, even though I’m only 11, I am already learning aspects of physics by building with LEGO. Building MOCs with LEGO puts kids in charge of their lives and lets them be their own leaders.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES  FROM TECHLEARNING.COM 

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How Out-of-This-World STEM Education Is Transforming Schools

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