Generating Excitement with Tinkercad in South Africa

A blog by Sarah O’Rourke, Senior Product Marketing Manager for the Consumer and 3D Printing at Autodesk:

It’s Sarah again, coming to you from South Africa. I know that we are awaiting the announcement of our one million registered Tinkercad users but I wanted to share the power that Tinkercad had over the children of Kayamandi Township in South Africa today.

If you have been following my journey over the last week, you know I have been part of a team of Autodesk employees that have been working locally to train teachers about bringing maker-based learning into the classroom. The team wanted to make sure that we were maximizing our time and worked with the Greater Stellenbosch Development Trust to host a four-hour session about Tinkercad, Tinkerplay, 123D Cirucits, Circuit Scribe and more!

Well, these kids were excited to say the least! As we arrived at 8:30am to set up before the 9:00am start time, there were already a group of 15 learners waiting for the doors to be opened. Instead of having them wait, they asked what they could do to help us set up. We certainly did not refuse their help.

I started with an overview of Autodesk and then we talked about their thoughts on 3D design, what is a designer and careers that bring together topics like science, math, art and making. Our goal was to give these learners a taste of excitement about the possibility of careers they could explore, get them hands on with Tinkercad and see where they took it from there.

Likhona did not want to leave the 123D Circuits and Circuit Scribe table. Our future car designer in the making.

But one special student stands out. During our first week at Makupula, we had a very curious learner stop by. Likhona Vandaba was interested in knowing what we were doing. John Helfen, Project Ignite Community Manager, started talking to him and Liviandda was hooked. His eyes lit up, he wanted John to show him more and by the end of the conversation Likhona said he now wanted to be a car designer.

The next few days during breaks he continued to stop by.

It was exciting to see him at this event. One of the first to arrived and the last to leave. The first session he attended was the overview of how to get started in Tinkercad. It did not take him long to start getting the hang of the editor, figure out the copy and tinker function and start asking John for more advanced tips. Then the next stop for him was getting hands on with the 123D Circuits and Circuit Scribe table.

Also at that table was Nicolas, a Stellenbosch University student volunteering his time from Engineers without Boarders.

These two, from various upbringings, sat down and were focused on building the most advanced circuit they could with the components. They worked together side-by-side for more than an hour. They pulled Tinkerplay parts to add on top of the motor to add some flair to make it visually spin. During this trip I have learned so much about the cultural and politics that are still fresh in this country. I was so thrilled to see two people coming together to make something.

Crossing the tracks into each others worlds.

Oddly enough, I don’t think that Likhona and Nicolas’s friendship will stop after the training. That’s the funny thing about making something together.

Peter traveled all the way to South Africa to teach the kids how to get started with Tinkerplay

You want to do it again. You want to create, be inspired and are left curious for more.

As the two moved into the hallways of Vision Africa, they pulled out their phones and exchanged numbers on What’sApp. I overheard Nicolas offering to have Likhona come over and visit the university. Likhona paused and said, “I can do that? They won’t ask me to leave.”

Nicolas simply said, “No.”

That’s the funny thing about change, it happens in small doses with small acts.

Thank you to the GSDT, Vision Africa, Engineers without Boarders from Stellenbosch University and more for supporting us today! I can’t wait to skype with you all and continue to teach you about all that Autodesk has to offer you!