SketchUp is a free downloadable software from Google that you can use to create 3D models of anything you can imagine. People use SketchUp to create architectural, landscape, and woodworking models or just for fun!
You can build models from scratch, or you can download what you need from the Google 3D Warehouse . This is a huge, searchable directory of models – and just like most things from Google – it’s free.
How does SketchUp work?
First you must download the software and install the program on your computer. It’s compatible with both Macs and PCs. The latest version is Sketchup7 . Schools can download Sketchup7 Pro for FREE.
To build models in SketchUp, you draw edges and faces using a few simple tools. For example, you draw a rectangle and then use Sketch Up’s push/pull tool to make it 3D. The models you made can be completely accurate to precise measurements. You can use SketchUp’s Paint Bucket tool to paint your model with materials like colors and textures. There are many advanced techniques to make your models look realistic.
Younger students can “play” with the software to create models or diagram while at the same time practice important geometry concepts. The 3D Warehouse contains puzzles and geometric mosaics that would be great for introducing math concepts.
Google Earth Integration
Creating models for Google Earth presents a unique challenge compared to everyday SketchUp modeling. You can place the models you make in SketchUp into Google Earth but you might want to watch these video tutorials first . Click HERE to view basic instructions of how to place your model in Google Earth.
Another thing you can do is include real world context for your models, such as aerial photos and terrain from Google Earth.
Check out the following case studies that have been submitted by the SketchUp K-12 Education community. Apartment model (right) made by elementary student.
You might spark an interest in engineering or architecture by giving a student access to SketchUp.
Here are some ideas of how you might want to use it in your classroom:
- Build a 3D model of your school.
- Use SketchUp to visualize the geometry concepts you are teaching.
- Create a 3D model of the California Missions and then incorporate those models into Google Earth.
- Have students build a model of their houses.
- When studying architecture of the past, create a 3D model of an ancient pyramid.
- More ideas at Google SketchUp Teacher Guide
- Video tutorials are a great way to get started if you’re new to building 3D models with Google SketchUp.
- Self-paced Tutorials are SKP files, which guides you step by step (using scenes) on concepts of modeling in SketchUp.
- SketchUp Community – blogs, newsletters, and user groups
- SketchUp help
- SketchUcation community forums
- Google SketchUp Teacher Guide