I originally intended for the students to experiment with Islamic-inspired tile patterns in TurtleArt.
Some were able to get their patterns to repeat while others focused on creating a single design that was approximately 500 pixels by 500 pixels in size. Below is an example programmed by one of the students.
Next, the students opened their design in Preview and cropped the design as closely as they could.
Since I do not have Inkscape installed on the student laptops, I did the conversion from .png to .svg file format.
Once the students had an .svg file they imported the design into Tinkercad at 20% scale and 10mm tall. The design comes in quite large.
The students resized their tile stamps to approximately 10 cm square and 4 mm tall.
Once resized the design was downloaded as an .stl tile for 3D printing.
The tile stamps were printed on a MakerBot Replicator 2 printer in PLA plastic. I used MakerWare to print them. The stamps were printed with a raft because it formed a convenient backing for the tile without requiring the students to place their designs on a base before they downloaded the .stl. I was able to print two tiles at a time on the Replicator 2.
Once everybody's stamps were printed the students practiced stamping Play-Doh in anticipation of stamping clay. Students learned how much (or little) pressure they needed to apply to the stamp to get a good impression in the Play-Doh.
Prepared to stamp clay, the students used their 3D printed stamps to create their tiles. The clay was forgiving if the design did not come through the first time: they could re-roll out the clay and re-stamp it.
The students also printed out their designs and took them to art class. They used markers to color in their designs in anticipation of glazing their tiles. The paper versions of the tile informed their glazing efforts.
Once glazed, the tiles were fired. They turned out beautifully!
The students, the lower school art teacher, and I all agreed that this was a hard fun project! We were afforded plenty of time so no part of the process felt rushed. I feel that this project is a good response to Gary Stager's "...and then?" prompt because the 3D printed object was not the end product but instead the beginning step in creating something new and more complex than they might have been capable of without the new tool they created. I love the variety of designs and choices of glazes. One might not consider programming to be a an artistic act, but these fourth graders proved it can be, given the right prompt and the support to carry the project through to its conclusion.