Here’s yet another cool product from Google. It seems that they recently purchased SketchUp, an easy-to-use 3D modeling tool that I played with a bit a few months ago. The new product, Google SketchUp, is now free for personal use and integrated with Google Earth. Unfortunately for me, like Google Earth, Google SketchUp is only available for Windows right now. A Mac version is “coming soon” according to the site. Check out the examples that demonstrate SketchUp objects georeferenced onto Google Earth maps.
The learning implications are huge. At a minimum, students could collaborate to build a model of their school and expand to other buildings in the neighborhood. And SketchUp isn’t just for buildings. You can model any object in 3D. Maybe you’re working a project where students are designing a future settlement on Mars. Now they can create those structures in 3D instead. How about creating 3D representations of historical artifacts? Wouldn’t it be cool to involve students in designing the school or city of the future?
Another new product related to Google SketchUp is 3D Warehouse, a collection of user-contributed 3D objects to facilitate model building. Need a “Greek Pillar Without a Base”? Here you go. Once students start modeling objects, they can be contributed to the 3D Warehouse for other people to use. Sounds like a fun weekend project.
I have always appreciated design and the intense intellectual effort it requires. Design is one of those skills we really need to ramp up in our students in this “flat world.”