Google SketchUp An – Introduction

Google SketchUp is a powerful, 3-D drawing program that is free to download and use. I can understand why some teachers would, at first, be inclined to automatically reject the idea of young students using Google SketchUp. It is an advanced drawing program – one that can be as accurate as CAD and other engineering drafting programs. But what is unique about Google SketchUp is that, as well as enabling people to draw 3-D shapes, it is fun to use. Google SketchUp is not difficult to learn, especially when concepts are taken in a step-by-step approach and individuals are given lessons on use of the application. An important resource is which shows four video tutorials for new users. These videos demonstrate how to use Google SketchUp. There are also 24 additional videos that further demonstrate how to use the toolbar.

The Teacher Needs to Learn Google SketchUp First

Most teachers have had experience with a wide variety of computer programs, including graphics/drawing programs. However, Google SketchUp is a very powerful and unique drawing application so a teacher would be wise to learn it before attempting to teach his or her students. The best way to learn Google SketchUp is though the Google SketchUp training videos. These Google SketchUp tutorial videos are packed full of useful bits of information. It is helpful to watch the videos twice before attempting the ideas within the application itself.

Even if you are familiar with the program, Google SketchUp, a preview of these tutorial videos is still advisable as they are very useful for teaching the students how to use this application.

Teaching Young Students to Use Google SketchUp

Google SketchUp Video Tutorial 1

The first video explains that Google SketchUp is a 3-D drawing program and that the three tools for looking at the drawings are the orbit, pan and zoom tools. The pan and zoom tools are the same as those in other programs. The purpose of the orbit tool is to change the angle at which you are viewing an object. (An object can be seen from the side or from above.) The other idea in the first video is that you can make complex objects by drawing simple shapes and then ‘pulling’ them into 3-D. Tutorial 1 would be suitable for Grades One and up. For Grades One and Two, it would be valuable to show the video several times for students to assimilate the concepts. It would be great if the teacher had access to a projector whereby he/she could display a computer screen. Then the teacher could also show the students the tools within the application, as a way of reviewing the use of the orbit, pan and zoom tools.

Google SketchUp Video Tutorial 2

Google SketchUp Video Tutorial 2 is all about drawing shapes. This video explains the four rules for drawing edges (discussing surfaces, edges, inferring and endpoints). This video is significantly more complex. It is most suited to students in Grades Three and up. However, the video is well done and a teacher could show it to a younger class. If a teacher attempts to do this, one way to handle it would be to pause the video tutorial after each snippet, re-explain the concept again, and then quiz the students on the concepts. For example, “What is an edge?”

To learn more about this topic, please see “Using Google SketchUp with Early Years Students”.

© Celesta Thiessen
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