Top 10 History Focused 3D Design Lesson Ideas

There is something very intriguing about interpreting the past using new technology. Here are our favorite design challenges for engaging students in the past and helping them to uncover lost stories.

1.New Look Heritage

Get to know some of the heritage buildings in your local area. The National Trust, local museum or a community history group may be able to help with uncovering some of the stories of these heritage buildings. After making observations, students choose 5 features from one of the heritage buildings and design their own building that includes these features.

2. Timeline

After learning about a particular period of time, students design 3D print objects that represent events that happened during this time. These are arranged chronologically to form a 3D printed timeline.

3. Continuity and Change

Start with an object used to perform a daily task such as ironing clothes, keeping food cool or traveling to school. Student’s design this object in 3D. They then flip a coin to determine their next design. Tails= find out what was used to do this task was in the past and design it in 3D. Heads= predict what might be used to do this task in the future and design it in 3D.

4. Cause and Effect

Wherever we look in history, we see examples of cause and effect. Things don’t happen in isolation; one thing leads to another like a chain of dominoes. In this challenge, students are presented with an event (the cause) and they use 3D design to create something that shows what happened next (the effect). Eg. Gold was discovered in Victoria (design a Eureka flag or something showing the contribution of Chinese migrants to Australia), Countries were destroyed in World War II (design a ship or something relating to forced migration)

5. Who is missing?

There is always more than one side to every story and perspective is an important historical concept for students to understand. We can learn just as much from who is in an old photograph, for example, as we can from thinking about who is not in the photograph. Ask students to view old photographs or paintings and think about who is not included. Whose perspective is not being told? Students design and 3D print the missing person or representative of a missing group.

6. Historical Repairs

Research an historical site such as the Colosseum that has been damaged over time or finds out about a museum artifact that has been damaged such as an old vase or artwork. Challenge students to design what they think the site or artefact would have looked like in the past before it was damaged.

7. Artefact Adventures

Use 3D design and printing to create models of artefacts students find in museums or the online connection to a particular historical inquiry. Students design the most intriguing artefact they can find and challenge others to find out what it is. They could set up a mystery artefact display and give clues and captions to help other students solve the mystery!

8. Ancient Societies

One of our favorite history design challenges comes from a 7th-grade teacher whose students had been learning about ancient societies. He challenged them to design chess pieces that represent the different social roles in one of the ancient societies that had been studying.

9. In the style of…

If students are learning about a particular society or time period in history, challenge them to create models that are influenced by the artistic or architectural styles of the time. Eg. What would a mobile phone cover designed in the style of art from ancient Egypt look like?

10. Way back when…

Challenge younger students to find out about what life for their parents and grandparents was like when they were children. Design Grandpa’s bicycle or Mum’s favorite toy based on the photos and information they learn from their families.

Makers Empire’s Lesson Ideas are free, quick and easy ideas to get you started with 3D design and printing. We hope you enjoyed this post.


Mandi Dimitriadis, DipT. is an experienced classroom teacher who recognizes 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. She is passionate about Design Thinking and how best to prepare today’s students for the future.

Makers Empire helps K-8 teachers teach Design Thinking, STEM and 21st-century learning skills using 3D printing. Our pioneering 3D solutions for schools include 3D modelling software, over 150 lesson plans aligned with international standards and professional development. With Makers Empire, engaged students learn how to solve real-world problems and make their world better.

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