Product Review of 3DBear AR
3DBearAR is a design app (for iOS and Android) that combines augmented reality (AR), 3D design, and 3D printing through integration with Maker Bot Thingiverse. YouTube tutorials accessible from within the app are a useful place for users to begin. Teachers create and assign lessons or challenges to learners via a teacher dashboard, and kids use the app on their smartphone or tablet (be aware that some older devices aren’t compatible) to create scenes using the object library, images from their devices, or uploads from Thingiverse. Students can share completed designs, scenes, and videos through the cloud feature to the teacher dashboard for viewing. From there, educators can share designs with teams of learners for further discussion and modification.
Students can also share their creations via email, social media, Google Drive, or a host of other options, allowing them to get feedback from others or to crowdsource ideas. Since social sharing is so easy, however, educators should take advantage of the opportunity to make sure learners aren’t including personal information on their designs and to talk with kids about protecting their privacy.
Design thinking, often limited to the art classroom in a teacher’s mind, comes to life in 3DBear AR. Students can “illustrate” stories in 3D, create augmented-reality models of buildings, reimagine communities, or portray elements of ecosystems. As they engage, they may invent objects that solve problems or simply practice interior design skills from their compatible tablets or mobile devices. Challenge kids to design a reading corner for your classroom or overhaul your makerspace. Let learners re-create scenes from history by uploading designs or importing from Thingiverse, or challenge them to research dinosaurs and re-create a scene from the Mesozoic era. Thinking bigger? Host a green school design contest, and use a 3D printer to create a model that incorporates the best ideas to bring to your administration or board for consideration.
Students will easily get lost in the creation process, so educators should schedule ample time for creativity as well as set clear expectations that align with learning goals. The lesson plans and use cases on the site may provide some useful guidance for educators who aren’t sure how 3DBear AR will fit into their curriculum. Others may prefer to create their own lessons or challenges on the platform to share with their learners. Better yet, involve learners in the brainstorming process; chances are, they’ll come up with loads of ideas for classroom use.
Any time educators encourage kids to let the creative juices flow, learning will happen, but it’s often what we don’t expect that makes this encouragement worthwhile. Developing novel solutions is a primary outcome of tools like 3DBear AR, and the teacher’s role shifts from deliverer of knowledge to a guide who channels learners‘ energy into meaningful tasks that will enhance understanding of core concepts and provoke creative and innovative designs.
Merging technology and artistic design with math and engineering concepts like scaling and iterative design is at the heart of the STEAM approach, and 3DBear AR is a powerhouse when it comes to possibilities. However, it’s not a tool you want to use without discretion — it’s too easy to get lost in playing, and without clear direction, kids might not accomplish much beyond having fun. While that certainly has its place, many educators will find it easier to see the learning value when learners are engaged in activities that allow them the flexibility and creativity they crave while meeting curricular goals and objectives. To that end, educators may want to take advantage of the site’s resources and social media feeds for inspiration and engaging, educationally sound activities.
Overall User Consensus About the App
Kids will love adding and interacting with characters, objects, and shapes in blank or furnished spaces; it’s easy to get immersed in the process.
Curriculum and Instruction
Presents a lot of learning opportunities in the hands of a skilled instructor. There really is no limit to the ways that creative educators can use this tool to promote design thinking, collaboration, and problem-solving in the classroom.
In-app video tutorials, use cases, and a handful of lesson plans will get you started. More shared ideas for use would pull in learners who need extra support and educators who have difficulty seeing possibilities in a classroom setting.