Taking SketchUp to School

7Hills03When I was sitting in my high school geometry class I wouldn’t have believed you if you had told me that one day I would standing in front of the class, suggesting that geometry was not only useful, but interesting and fun, I would have bet the farm that it would never happen. Last week I had that exact experience as the guest of Seven Hills School here in Cincinnati. I shared with four different classes how I use SketchUp (and good old geometry) in my work preparing technical illustrations for Popular Woodworking Magazine and for my books.

We talked about how technical drawing is really a form of language, and a way to translate information about our three dimensional world with two-dimensional methods. An understanding of geometry is a big part of that, and the way things work and fit together is one of the areas where many seemingly educated people fall short. In geometry class the students had used SketchUp to model prisms (I showed them how to use the software to automatically calculate volume) and some of them had modeled houses for a science class.

FORMAL-DININGfmMuch to my surprise, the kids were interested and attentive. Even when I went off on a tangent comparing old methods of drafting and 2D CAD to 3D modeling and using the Pythagorean theorem to check to see if the corners of the room were square or not. Young people today tend to be visually oriented and SkechUp can be used in a number of subjects to get students involved and excited about learning.

One of the things that slows down the introduction of SketchUp in schools is teaching the teachers how to use the software. Teachers have a lot on their plate to begin with and learning a new piece of software can present a high hurdle. I’m interested in helping teachers help their students, and I’m also interested in hearing from teachers who are using SketchUp in their classes. Feel free to get in touch either by e-mail or by leaving a comment below.

Bob Lang talks about SketchUp at the Seven Hills School in CincinnatiToday’s middle school and high school students are the future. In a few years they will be turned loose in a world that changes fast and they need to be equipped. If they are adept at how the real world works, how to make new and better stuff, how to solve problems and how to communicate all of that, their world (and ours) will be a better place and their journey through it will be easier.

If you’d like to learn more about learning SketchUp yourself, teaching how to use it for any purpose, or share your story about SketchUp and young people, get in touch with me or leave a comment below.

— Bob Lang

There are a number of free SketchUp tutorials on this site, among them this series titled:

“Ten Things I Wish I Had Known About SketchUp”

I also have a digital book (with embedded video) for learning SketchUp titled:

“Building Blocks of SketchUp”


Taking SketchUp to School — 4 Comments

  1. Sketchup is used in my 6th grade curriculum and the students really enjoy it. We use this as a lead in to more complex CAD programs.

  2. I have just started using it to build cabinets and other projects and I have found it to be quite exciting to see the ideas in my mind appear on the computer just the way I plan them.

  3. I’m making a map of our parking spaces at our housing complex and I use sketchup to accurately map out and test how to best utilize the space we now have or might need to add. Thanks for the links and a great insight into modern teaching! /Dave, Sweden

What do you think?