Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12

In this lesson plan which is adaptable for grades 3-12, students use BrainPOP resources to explore 3D printing. Students will learn what 3D printers can and cannot do and sketch a useful object that they’d like to make with a 3D printer. Students with 3D printer access will also be able to print their own 3D Moby.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Identify what 3D printers currently can and cannot print.
  2. Explain how 3D printer technology works.
  3. Sketch a useful object that could be made using current 3D printer technology.


  • Computer with internet access for BrainPOP
  • Interactive whiteboard
  • 3D printer (optional)
  • 3D Moby .stl file (optional)

Lesson Procedure:

  1. The day before implementing this lesson, ask students to find an article online about 3D printing and generate a list of questions they have about the topic. They might also list some things they'd like to create using a 3D printer.
  2. Display the Graphic Organizer on your interactive whiteboard. Encourage student volunteers to share what they already know about 3D printing based on their independent research, and share what they'd like to know. Type their responses into the organizer.
  3. Open a new tab or window on your browser and play the 3D Printing Movie for the class.
  4. Return to the graphic organizer. Is there any information they thought they knew that was incorrect? What new information do they have now? Which questions were answered and which remain unanswered? Are there any new questions that students have?
  5. If you have access to a 3D printer in your classroom, tell students they will have the opportunity to print their own 3D Moby, just like in the movie. Show students what the 3D Moby .stl fileand printer look like and demonstrate how to print.
  6. Pass out copies of the Activity or graph paper, and encourage students to sketch something that is both useful and simple enough to print on a 3D printer.
  7. Allow students to share their ideas and creations with the class.
  8. You can assess student learning using the Quiz.

Extension Activities:

Have students work collaboratively to research the answers to any questions from the KWL chart that were not addressed through the BrainPOP movie. They can use the FYI and Q&A resources to help.
  • Sharon

    3-D printing is becoming a reality for libraries, schools, and communities. I like how the movie explains the concept of 3-D printing. I would encourage a class to print one Moby figure. The students could then design their own object using software like Tinkercad. Representatives from businesses that use 3D printers could visit or skype into the classroom.

  • Lorelle Allessio

    Love that there are lessons around 3D printing. I like how the movies help explain 3D printing if needed. I am thankful for the tie to CC standards as well. Everything one of my teachers would need is located on this page for them to access and use with their students alog with the resources, quizzes and extentsions if needed.

  • Eileen M Lastrina

    The STL file imported as a huge 11M Moby using sketchup. I was not able to use Tinkercad due to the huge size. Is there something I’m doing wrong? Should I just scale it in Sketchup? Would like to print one prior to class to show model. Thanks in advance!

  • brainpopandrew

    @eileenmlastrina:disqus indeed that’s a big file, I’d scale it in sketchup for now. . . also we noticed someone posted a Moby model yesterday (on tinkercad) He’s missing and arm, and he has a moustache, but it could be another starting point