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How does 3D design help kids learn?

Oct 01,2023 | 3D4Create

In recent years, 3D modeling and design tools aimed at kids have exploded in popularity. Easy-to-use apps like TinkerCAD make it possible for children to digitally construct imaginative 3D objects and characters.

In this post, we’ll explore the key learning abilities that modeling and designing in 3D fosters in kids. 

I. An Introduction to 3D Modeling for Kids

So how exactly do kids start designing in 3D? The two main approaches are:

  • 3D Modeling Apps - Browser-based and mobile apps like Bloxels, Minecraft, and Roblox provide intuitive drag-and-drop interfaces for constructing 3D objects out of simple shapes. Kids can build virtually anything they dream up.
  • CAD Software - Simplified computer-aided design programs like TinkerCAD, SelfCAD, and Vector3D allow kids to create more geometrically precise 3D models for printing or digital use. They introduce important concepts like sketching, assemblies, and slicing.

Accessible tools like these allow children to easily dive into the world of 3D creation. But more importantly, the learning benefits they gain go far beyond just digital literacy.


II. Developing Spatial Reasoning

One major advantage of 3D modeling is that it builds up spatial reasoning abilities. Visualizing and manipulating objects in three-dimensional space grows skills needed across STEM fields like engineering, robotics, architecture, and more.

Practicing moving, combining, and modifying 3D shapes and structures in a modeling environment trains the brain’s spatial processing centers. Kids learn to anticipate how objects will look from various angles.

These mental rotation, coordination, and dimensional thinking skills provide the fundamental basis for higher math and science topics. Developing them early through 3D design is key.

EasyThreed K9 3D Printer for Kids


III. Sparking Creativity and Imagination

Another benefit of 3D modeling tools for kids is they unlock tremendous creativity. Suddenly being able to digitally build any structure, creature, invention or world they can dream up fires up the imagination.

Kids gain confidence in being creative problem solvers. Whether designing their own treehouse, robot buddy, or entire Minecraft kingdom, they learn there are endless possibilities if you can envision something.

Creating their own 3D characters also lets kids tell stories and express ideas. This engages linguistic areas and builds narrative thinking ability.

Mini 3D Printed Panda Model - Cute Chubby Room Decoration

Lifelike 3D Printed Panda


IV. Practicing Critical Thinking and Planning

While unleashing those imaginations, 3D modeling also teaches structured critical thinking. Designing objects that actually work requires careful planning, sequencing, and problem solving.

Kids must iterate on their designs, refining shapes, proportions and assemblies. They develop persistence in prototyping their ideas while troubleshooting any structural or functional issues.

Learning these testing and analytical skills in a digital environment prepares them for real-world critical thinking. 3D modeling also teaches important strategies like breaking complex designs down into simpler parts.

Teaching kids 3D modeling is a great idea | Vivaldi Browser

Teaching kids 3D modeling is a great idea (photo: Vivaldi Browser)


V. Building Digital and Technical Literacy

Of course, mastering 3D modeling programs themselves builds valuable technology literacy for the digital age. Understanding how to navigate and utilize these creative software tools paves the way for future tech expertise.

Learning the specific vocabulary and spatial logic behind 3D modeling gives kids lifelong foundations in digital spatial mapping, rendering, graphic design, and related fields. These can prepare kids for future careers in our tech and design driven world.

Minimalist Pen Holder 3D Print for Office Use

Minimalist Pen Holder 3D Print for Office Use


VI. Boosting Confidence and Self-Expression

Lastly, experiencing the sense of achievement and ownership in creating personalized 3D designs does wonders for developing confidence and self-identity.

Seeing their virtual ideas come to “life” helps validate kids’ thinking and ingenuity. The ability to make anything they envision also provides an emotional creative outlet.

Sharing their designs online allows kids to find community and purpose. Overall, the open-ended creativity kids can experience in 3D worlds is incredibly empowering.

PLA 3D Printer for Kids - Start Creation with One Click


VII. Conclusion: The Future is 3D

With the growing ubiquity of 3D modeling programs and apps aimed at kids, soon these spatial design skills could resemble digital literacy. We may see schools embracing 3D design as a core subject that builds spatial, analytical, and creative chops.

Unlocking these development benefits early creates a generation able to think, reason, and communicate in 3D. The ability to turn imagination into virtual reality prepares kids for a future transformed by advanced technologies.

So beyond just being fun, letting your kids find their inner designer through 3D creation tools can open up a world of lifelong learning, confidence, and success. Support them in becoming the 3D visionaries of tomorrow.



1. What are 3 benefits of using 3D modeling when designing?

A: Three key benefits of 3D modeling for design are: 1) ability to visualize concepts spatially, 2) test fit and function through prototyping, 3) make iterative improvements more easily.

2. What does 3D printing teach kids?

A: Key learning benefits of 3D printing for kids include developing spatial reasoning, creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, design skills, and technical literacy with modeling software.

3. Why are 3D models great for education?

A: Educational benefits of 3D models include: 1) providing tangible representations of abstract concepts, 2) enabling hands-on interaction to reinforce learning, and 3) supporting project-based learning through design and modeling.


See Also:

Can Children Use a 3D Printer? Pros, Cons and Age Limits

5 Best 3D Printers for Kids in 2023

What age is appropriate for 3D printing?