Teaching with 3D Made Easy with Makers Empire’s Challenge Courses

We are always looking for ways to make Makers Empire more useful for teachers and more engaging for students. While students are busy creating new designs and honing their 3D modelling skills, we want teachers to feel confident that their students are also achieving learning outcomes relevant to the Design and Technologies or Engineering Design curriculum they are teaching.  

Makers Empire teachers never cease to impress us with their innovative and creative ideas for using Makers Empire to help their students achieve curriculum learning outcomes. However, we also know how busy teachers are and how difficult it can be to find time to sit down and plan engaging, curriculum-aligned units of work. So we’ve taken a bit of the workload from our busy teachers by providing ready-made courses for students to work through. 

Introducing New Challenge Courses

Each course contains four different activities: 

  1. Videos: we introduce information and ideas. 
  2. Quizzes: students test their knowledge and understanding in a Game Show style multiple-choice quiz.
  3. Pro-training tutorials: students are led step-by-step to design cool things and learn new skills. 
  4. Design challenges: students are given an open-ended design challenge or problem to solve.

Each course provides a complete design program for students. Challenge courses are carefully aligned to curriculum outcomes, centred around a theme and are designed to take 4-10 weeks to complete. Teachers, for example, might plan to have their students work through a Challenge Course for one lesson per week over a term. Over that term, students will be addressing all aspects of the Design and Technologies curriculum without teachers needing to do any extra planning. 

Current Challenge Courses

Challenge Courses are accessed by students via Challenge Central in the Makers Empire app. Our Challenge Courses are based on relevant and current themes that have age-appropriate appeal. Our current Challenge Courses include the following. Browse the full list current Challenge Courses.

Welcome to 3D (grades 3-6)

This course is a great introduction to Makers Empire and is suitable for students in years 3-6. In this course students are introduced to the world of 3D and learn to create their first basic designs.  Students will learn about key terminology & concepts used in 3D design, the basic tools required to make a 3D design and will consider a design brief and follow instructions to create a printable 3D product.

Mission to Mars (grades 3-4)

Mission to Mars is aimed at years 3-4 and helps students learn about Mars and space travel. A series of design challenges ask students to work through the design thinking process. These are presented with briefs for designing a rocket, a spacecraft landing device, a space helmet, a Mars Rover, and a sleeping station. Finally, students will design a toy or gadget that could be fun or useful on Mars keeping in mind design criteria and constraints. They then evaluate their designs. 

Fabulous Fairytales (K-2)

Students examine elements of familiar fairy tales. They explore video content focussing on the fairy tale genre and common features fairy tales have such as magic, royalty, castles, a group of 3, problems to solve, and happy endings. The course includes 3 interactive quizzes and students are provided with tutorials to design elements from familiar fairy tales. Students are provided with scaffolding to create 3 fairy tale themed designs of their own.

Be a Jewellery Designer (3+)

In this course, grade 3+ students will learn how to design simple jewellery pieces. They will meet a professional jewellery designer, learn about the importance of understanding your customer and practise working with precise design constraints around size and material properties. Students will complete two interactive quizzes to test their understanding of the content, three step-by-step tutorials to help them practise working to precise measurements and will finally be challenged to create a wearable accessory of their own design.

Awesome Animals (grades 5-6) 

In this course aimed at years 5-6, students learn about adaptations in animals and biomimicry. They explore video content showing features that let animals survive in different environments and examples of natured-inspired solutions to human problems. Next, three interactive quizzes to put students’ knowledge to the test. Students are also provided with step-by-step tutorials for designing animals with specific features. Finally, students are also asked to use their design skills and innovative ideas to create four animal inspired designs.

Super Sports (grades 3-6)

In this course to be launched in 2022, students will learn about the Olympic Games. They will explore video content focusing on the history, structure, symbols, traditions, sporting events, equipment and design elements of the games and how scientific and design concepts relate to these topics. The challenge course includes four interactive quizzes  and students are provided with tutorials for creating designs related to the Olympic Games theme. Students are asked to use their design skills and ideas to create four Olympic Games themed designs.

Challenge Courses with Partners

Makers Empire also partners with trusts and foundations and corporate partners to deliver themed Challenge Courses with specific learning objectives. These courses are usually piloted with a group of schools before expanding to a larger region.

Bushfire Brave (grades 3-7)

The Bushfire Brave Challenge Course has been created in partnership with Bushfire Kids Connect. Students will learn background information about bushfires, including why they happen, what to expect during a fire, and Indigenous perspectives. They will develop empathy for bushfire-affected families and explore strategies for dealing with big feelings. Students will work through 3  design tutorials, learning how to create items that might help bushfire-affected families. They will then work through design thinking processes to invent and create a new product to help a family recover and feel happy after a bushfire. Learn more about the pilot program and about the pilot showcase day.

If I Were a Leader (grades 3-6)

In this course created in partnership with the History Trust of South Australia, students will learn about what it means to be a leader reflect on their own leadership qualities. They will examine objects and stories from the History Trust’s collections to explore key qualities that great leaders often have and understand how these qualities are represented in actions. As they work through the challenge course, students will complete a series of design challenges based on design thinking processes. They will be introduced to objects and museum artefacts through short videos and interactive quizzes. This course will be piloted in 2022.


Careers Under Construction (grades 7-9)

Makers Empire has partnered with the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) to create a pioneering challenge course to help deliver education and awareness of jobs in the construction industry to middle school students. Students will learn about sustainable buildings and how to create infrastructure for the future.

Assessing Challenge Courses

You can assign challenge courses to students via the Teacher Dashboard in seconds. You can also see at a glance where your whole class is up to in the Challenge Course with our new challenge reports. Here you can monitor students’ progress, view designs, assess student work and provide feedback on individual designs. Students will then be able to read your feedback in the app on their own devices.

“I love being able to see (students’) progress which helps me with writing reports later this term and of course being able to help the kids having problems, which you can’t always see in a class of 26 in a 50 minute lesson. The kids are absolutely loving it and learning a lot through these Challenges.”
Johanna, Teacher

5 tips for teachers using Challenge Courses

  1. Plan: When you are planning your Design and Technology lessons for the term, why not consider using one of our Challenge Courses as the starting point or centrepiece of a term long focus?
  2. Integrate: There’s more to our Challenge Courses than Design and Technology. Each course draws from other curriculum areas and is presented as an integrated unit of work. For example: students develop their design processes and skills while learning about animal adaptations, which is a focus in most science curricula for Year 4 or 5 students around the world.
  3. Curriculum: All Challenge Courses are aligned to the Makers Empire Design and Technology Curriculum that helps teachers address Australian Curriculum, Next Generation Science Standards (US), the UK National Curriculum, and other curricula from around the world. 
  4. Report: Our new challenge reports provide a snapshot of the activities students have completed in a Challenge Course. Teachers can assess individual tasks, or the Challenge Course as a whole. The new report is presented as a useful snapshot of class progress. Reports can also be generated for individual students, making it easy to share student learning with parents, school leaders, and the students themselves.
  5. Differentiate:  Teachers can easily assign Challenge Courses to their students using the Teacher Dashboard. With one simple action from the teacher, students will be able to access the entire Challenge Course when they enter the Challenge Central section of the Makers Empire app. To make it easier for teachers to differentiate their instruction, it is also easy to assign different Challenge Courses to individual students.

New Challenge Courses

We are planning to add to our Challenge Courses over the coming months. So browse the full list of current Challenge Courses. If you have any great ideas for Challenge Courses, we would love to hear from you. We want to make these courses as useful as possible for teachers so your ideas are important to us.

Mandi Dimitriadis

Mandi Dimitriadis

Mandi Dimitriadis, DipT. is the award-winning, highly regarded and passionate Director of Learning at Makers Empire. She is an experienced classroom teacher who recognises the power of technology to enhance teaching and improve educational outcomes. Mandi has extensive experience with curriculum development and learning, having previously developed programs for the Australian Government’s Department of Education, and having created custom curriculum for Makers Empire schools in the USA, China and the UAE. She is passionate about Design Thinking and how best to prepare today’s students for the future.

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