How to learn CAD in schools: Top 15 of the best educational software
3D is more and more integrated to our daily lives and its future is really promising. A lot of engineers, researchers, designers, and people from various sectors have to deal with 3D software. Even the younger kids are now using different kind of technologies. Learning how to use technology is now part of the educational process. CAD (computer-aided design) software and 3D printing are slowly introduced in schools. It can be beneficial even for the kids, students, and so on. You may be a teacher, or representing a school, and you’re interested in the benefits of CAD for the students? We will give you all the answers to your questions to help you to introduce 3D modeling and 3D printing in your classrooms.
We are going to see in this blogpost how these new technological tools the students could benefit from, why they should be part of the schools programs, and what are exactly the important CAD software to learn. Students, faculties, teachers, and educational institutions, here’s our top of the best software to use in schools!
Why 3D modeling software could be interesting for education?
From kids in primary schools, middle schools, to design students, learning CAD in schools could be important and present many advantages. More and more different jobs are now using 3D technologies, you can work in design, but also in engineering, or research. We made a selection of software for the kids, by ages, for students, and more specifically for design students. Whatever their level of education, there is always a software that will fit their capacities.
For younger children it is a great experience. It allows them to create their own toys, they can go further than a simple drawing. However, some 3D modeling software can be really difficult to understand. That’s why having CAD classes could be a great solution in primary and secondary school. 3D modeling coupled with 3D printing can be a good way to motivate kids to create objects and stimulate their creativity. We’ll see in this blogpost that some software are focusing on targeting all the kids, girls and boys. It can help to create vocations for both of them.
For young kids, you have to get 3D software with small learning curves, easy to understand, and with a simple childish interface. They will surely learn and understand quickly how it works if the software is intuitive. They can design and draft a lot of different project thanks to computeraided design software specially made for them.
For the students, it is important to have CAD knowledge, even if they are not becoming industrial designers. Indeed, more and more sectors are using 3D visualization or 3D modeling. Obviously, these students will become professionals after their school diploma, that is why they have to know all the basics, they can develop skill in computer engineering, jewelry design, mechanical drafting, thanks to the various design CAD available on the market for students. Moreover, it will be a great asset during their job search.
How to choose the perfect CAD software ?
Here are some tips to choose the good CAD in schools:
- Choose a software adapted to the age of the users
It is pretty obvious, but some CAD are really difficult to take in hand, and you have to choose a 3D software adapted to the users. Some easy tools are available online for young children, with an intuitive interface. For design students, complex and complete software are needed, with a lot of elaborated editing tools.
- Choose a software adapted to your project
There are various 3D software available, but you have to keep your needs and projects in mind. For example, some software are perfect to sculpt, some other ones are perfect to create good renderings. There are also childish software that will allow your students to create some minecraft figures. Are you using a CAD in class to develop the children’s creativity? To teach advanced tools to your students? To initiate them to CAD drafting? To make them learn how to create a whole project by themselves? To 3D print? You’ll have to define your project before getting a 3D modeling software.
- Choose a convenient device!
If you’re hesitant because of the price of a 3D software, or maybe, you’re afraid of the install process, don’t worry, some solutions are free, and some are even available online, because they are browser-based. You can take the easier solution, and choose these online programs, especially if you are teaching to a class of young children.
Moreover, a lot of software are offering an education version, to help students and teachers to communicate on a project. These versions are allowing the teachers to follow the students’ work.
Are you ready to choose your educational program? We are going to help you to find the best introduction to 3D modeling for your students, among a selection of popular programs already used in some schools.
What are the best 3D modeling software for kids?
From 6 years old
Solidworks apps Kids
Solidworks developed six different apps dedicated to children: Capture it, Shape it, Style it, Mesh it, Show it, Print it. This software can even be used by kids from 4 years old. Moreover, this software is particularly interesting, because Solidworks is focusing on getting women into engineering, and that is exactly what they are trying to do with these apps for kids: they are targeting girls and boys. This way, we can see that CAD software in schools could also be a way to include everyone and reduce discriminations by including girls in engineering.
LeoCAD is an intuitive software, made for young users. This 3D program allows to build 3D models with LEGO bricks. It is particularly adapted to young children that will be able to use a building process that they already know, but this time, to create a 3D design. The main goal of LeoCAD is to offer the possibility to create 3D designs instinctively, without learning how to use the software during many hours. It has an easy design process.
Leopoly is also a good method to introduce kids to 3D modeling. This software is perfect to teach children their first modeling classes. It can show them 3D sculpting, but also engraving, 3D painting, and object mixing. It is a fun one to start with. You don’t need to download or install anything!
Moreover, Leopoly has all the options to make it practical for an educational program. Indeed, you can create a microsite with an admin side. It is a really welldone tool, and it will be perfect for you and your little 3D designers.
3D Slash is a CAD, claiming to be as simple as a video game. It is a quite precise tool to build amazing 3D constructions. As for Leopoly, it is possible to create accounts in 3D Slash for the students, but also for the administrator, who can follow the student’s work from here. It is possible to use it on a computer, but also on a tablet, and offline! It is a great software a kid’s first steps with design technology.
Printcraft allows to create Minecraft 3D models with dynamic blocks. It is a good way for 3D modeling and 3D printing to interest young people. Indeed, a modeling software related to the Minecraft universe will surely interest kids, and stimulate their creativity. Especially if it is a universe that they already know and like. It creates a great basis for a good user experience.
From 12 years old
This 3D modeling software is among the most simple ones to use, and it is the best one for someone who is just getting started with 3D modeling. It will not be suited for young children under 12 years old, because it requires a bit of maturity. But with a bit of practice, your students will certainly succeed in creating amazing project thanks to TinkerCAD.
This software has many advantages. You don’t need to download and install anything, and its interface is really user-friendly. It is a perfect software to allow the kids to make their first steps with what looks like a real professional 3D software.
If you need more information about TinkerCAD, check out our tutorial.
If you’re looking for a 3D browser-based program, it could be great to try SculptGL. This 3D sculpting software is quite easy to learn. It may not be as easy to handle as the previous ones to create defined and elaborated objects. But it is perfect to familiarize kids to sculpting and they can develop their creative skills by creating a project from scratch! This sculpting tool is fun and offers a total freedom in your project.
This CAD has great educators features. BlocksCAD is offering introductory activities to learn how to use CAD tools correctly. You’ll be able to teach the basics of modeling to your students, to check and download their stl file. It is also convenient if you are planning to 3D print them. You can edit all of the students’ work. It is totally possible to manage your classes through the Dashboard of this 3D program.
Sketchup is a fun design program to use, and perfect to learn 3D modeling.What are the benefits of this CAD? It has a suite specially made for primary and secondary schools, called Sketchup for Schools. This is available in the G suite marketplace of Google. It works with Google Drive. This program is very complete, but you have to buy a license to make the most of all of these tools.
We can see on their website that a lot of classrooms across the world are using Sketchup to create amazing design projects, and build great 3D models. It could give you great ideas.
CAD for students
BricsCAD is a full CAD suite. Free for 12 months, so you can make the most of it during your studies, to learn all the basics of modeling software. It is a very complete software to learn all you have to know about a CAD program. You’ll be able to work on advanced 2D drawings, as well as 3D modeling.
Solidworks also has an Education version. Your students will be able to get all the CAD skills that they need for their career. It is perfect to learn 3D mechanical CAD, design validation and data management. This software is well-known thanks to its various fields of application. For example, it can be used for mechanical drafting and design.
AutoCAD is perfect to build advanced and detailed 3D models. It also have excellent drawing tools. Even if this 3D software is not specifically made for education, it is a professional tool. It is a connected 3D tool, cloud-based and optimized for a better communication between all the users. It could be a perfect solution for you, to work with your students. This software is particularly good to create technical 3D for architectural drafting and designs or mechanical applications. That is why you have to learn Autocad to your students, especially if they are preparing a design degree.
It is a major software if you’re planning to work in 3D design. Rhino is one of the most polyvalent software that you can find for 3D, it is used by a majority of professionals working in 3D. Indeed, it is important to learn how to use this software in schools, in order to be operational once you’re a professional. This software offers a lot of different tools, you can create 3D models, visual effects, product designs with great accuracy. Moreover, don’t be afraid of this software. It is a professional tool but it has an intuitive interface and it is easy to learn how to use it.
Onshape is a cloud based 3D software, it is an efficient tool to learn how to use a CAD software. It optimizes the collaboration between the users. Thanks to Onshape, you’ll be able to share your work and work on the same document with various people. It is a good program to create instructional designs.
Be aware, Blender is not for beginners. However, if you’re studying or teaching 3D design, you can totally use this CAD software. Indeed, if you’re learning design, in order to be an industrial design for example, it is important to know the basics of this advanced software.
Because this software is not that intuitive, and a bit difficult, there are some useful tutorial series available on their website. Feel free to check our Blender tutorial!
You want to 3D print the 3D projects of your students?
Once you’re done with 3D modeling, you can totally 3D print your creations! You don’t have to invest in an expensive desktop 3D printer in the school. Indeed, you can simply send your 3D files to an online 3D printing service such as Sculpteo.
We hope that this top convinced you and helped you to choose the best software for your classes! Maybe these kids will work in web design, civil engineering, character animation, mechanical engineering or game design in the future. Computer aided design software will be essentiel in their daily work.
What do you think about learning CAD in schools? Feel free to leave a comment and share you point of view and tips with us!
You want to give 3D printing a try? Upload your 3D files right here.