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DESIGN & TECHNOLOGY CASE STUDY: Print 3D Spinning Tops (Age 10-12)

“It’s crucial that students have had the opportunity to explore some manufactured small spinning tops of various types, so they can begin making predictions about what makes them work effectively. Students also need experience using basic tools in a 3D modelling platform – we used Tinkercad.”

“They will need to know how to: create and modify basic blocks, align blocks, and group them to create a single model.”

David Mann
Educational Services Director


This teaching sequence takes place over a series of sessions; students need time to research, plan, design, review, make and evaluate their creations. Once students have had time to investigate existing designs and have narrowed down a few key shapes, they can begin modelling in CAD. Make sure they think carefully about the axis around which their top will spin – how will they make sure it stays upright? Check that students are using appropriate 3D shapes as building blocks, then aligning and grouping them accurately. Once they’ve done this, export their models as STL files and upload them directly to the Shared Cloud library in the ClassVR Portal. Send these to the headsets and give students an opportunity to view them from all angles using the ARCube. Use this as a chance to review and make any edits before the 3D printing phase. Finally, it’s time to find out whose top can stay spinning the longest!


The ability to view and manipulate 3D designs in Augmented Reality before 3D printing adds a tactile dimension to the process of designing and making a real-world object. This is particularly helpful for students who find 3D visualisation difficult, and offers a valuable opportunity to discuss how designs can be optimised and improved. The satisfaction students gain from seeing a project like this through from start to finish is hard to underestimate, and it’s a great way to integrate several different types of technology into the curriculum. All too often, incredible assets like 3D printers can lie unused in schools; providing scaffolded teaching sequences that use the technology for a purpose can help to unlock their potential.

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Learning Aims:

  • To use research and develop design criteria to inform the design of innovative, functional, appealing products that are fit for purpose.
  • To generate, model and communicate their ideas through discussion, annotated sketches, prototypes and computer-aided design.

What would you like to see next in our ClassVR content and resources repository?

We love to hear feedback from schools all over the world, so if you have any suggestions of resources you would like to use or lessons you want to teach, just drop our Educational Services team an email at:

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