Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Consider Moment of Inspiration to Create Objects for Your New Cube3

At YouthQuest Foundation, we like to use the phrase "Turn On YOUR Brain..." to describe our goals in introducing 3D design & printing to the "at-risk" students we strive to motivate.

Most new technology has worked to turn OFF our brains!

When we stop to think about it, most new technologies in the last 100 years have helped turn OFF our childrens brains as they mindlessly sit in front of TVs, listen to their iPods or sit through meals playing video games ignoring their environment.  And, yes, I know I was a part of encouraging very young children to play video games in the early 1980s.  Who knew where it would lead.  I feel a pang of regret every time I see a child entirely engrossed in their Game Boy while eating out with their family... sigh.

But, 3D printing is entirely different.  

It empowers our creative side in a remarkable way and encourages children and adults to come up with new ideas and solutions by providing an immediate way to turn those ideas into physical reality.  It truly does, "Turn on our brains!"

To do this most effectively, we need a link between our brains and our 3D printers.  There are many 3D  design application choices available today and the number is growing.  Some are very low in cost, such as Cubify Invent and others completely free.  But, a hidden factor in choosing a 3D design package is the long term level of frustration at being able to design what your mind envisions.  For a person new to 3D printing, just getting acquainted with a 3D package is work enough.  Going beyond the start up to consider the ultimate limitations of that package is next to impossible.

What Makes a Great Video Game Makes a Great 3D Design Package

Consumer Reports puts a lot of weight on cost when rating products.  In 1981, the Bally Professional Arcade, the game system with which I worked, cost more than double the chief competition, Atari.  Yet, the Bally Professional Arcade was rated  #1 by Consumer Reports in 1981.

The reason was that our games were designed by a team that understood that challenges were good; but, frustration was bad.  Challenging levels were a must.  But, when a player failed at a given level they had to feel they had learned from that failure and could improve on their next attempt.  If the failure was caused by the game's slow response or inability let the player do what was necessary to win it was totally frustrating.  To me, the Atari and Mattel game versions were totally frustrating due to poor response.  And, Consumer Reports agreed.

The same is true if a 3D design application is to become a joy instead of a hindrance to our brains being turned on by frustrating our efforts to turn our ideas into printable designs.  The 3D application must not stand in the way of our creative achievement.  It must not leave us frustrated by its limitations and quirks.

Why We Chose Moment of Inspiration for Our "At-Risk" students. 

There are many reasons why a student drops out of school.  But, a major reason is simply a low tolerance for frustration.  Dropouts tend to quit easily.  So, it was extremely important for us to introduce 3D design with a software package that didn't stand in the way of what they wee trying to accomplish.  It goes well beyond simply being easy to learn.  It must be reliable to use and provide a very low frustration experience for the user. 

That is why we chose Moment of Inspiration  not only for our high school level cadets; but, for our upcoming introductory short courses for low-income elementary children in Girls & Boys Club programs.  At the basic level it is very easy to learn, using our "Verb & Noun" approach.  Yet, students can progress very rapidly into being able to create quite complex designs using more advanced 3D CAD concepts.

We only have our Youth ChalleNGe cadets for about 34 hours over a 3 month period.  And, remember, these aren't the advanced placement students that one normally finds in 3D clubs in traditional high schools.  These cadets are lucky to be able to pass their GED!

Yet, they can and do achieve some beautiful and complex designs because Moment of Inspiration not only allows them to do so; but, doesn't get in their way!   These sample images represent what they could do, on their own, mid-way through the most recent 34 hour class session. 

Cadet Ornament 01

Cadet Ornament 02

And this sample was created by a cadet in one of last year's sessions.  Note how the cadet was not only able to create a working set of gears; but, to add their individualized unique features.  While all the students were given the same specification (tooth count, radius, etc) in the design challenge, they were encouraged to make theirs a unique creation.  Moment of Inspiration's Circle Array function really captures the student's attention as is evident in all of the samples.

Cadet Ornamental Operating Gears

This year, the big project was a custom clock.  The cadets were given the clock works and they were challenged to design a custom clock face that would both fit the constraints of the clock works dimensions and expressed their individuality.  The results were impressive. They made this one for the director of YouthQuest

Clock Face Created by DC Challenge Academy Cadets

Finally, while this particular sample was not created by a student, it represents similar objects that were created during the class.  Unfortunately, again, I don't have an image of any of the cadets objects.  But, theirs appeared equally complex.  Yet, it only took minutes to do in Moment of Inspiration.

MOI Sweep/Circle Array Sample

I decided to see exactly how long it takes to create a similar object from scratch in Moment of Inspiration.  This design took just 12 minutes to create.  I then assigned the colors.  Actual two color assignment would be done in the Cubify Client based on the color of the filament you are using.

12 minute Sweep / Circle Array / Loft & Revolve Object
The basic center was created by LOFTing through 4 circles. The ornamental rings were created with Revolve and Circles.  And, the outside 'ribbon' was created using a SWEEPing a 2D shape and then repeating it using CIRCLE ARRAY.

The VERBS (commands) and NOUNS (2D drawing tools) in Moment of Inspiration form a powerful combination that is able to quickly turn most of our ideas into 3D printable objects with minimal frustration and time.  It's well worth considering.

The above were created using Version 2.  Version 3 is even MORE powerful.

A free trial of the new Version 3 can be downloaded on the Moment of Inspiration site.  They offer educational discounts.  I have some introductory tutorials on YouTube and the links can be found on my 3D Moment of Inspiration Users blog.  I know you re going to love it.

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