Biology and Symmetry

Portfolio Categories: Age group 13+ and Subject biology.

Alde Valley High School
Information: Brian Roscoe & Jonathan KeepTo understand the symmetrical evolution of insect form through 3D computer modelling

Subject: Biological Science

Aim: To understand the symmetrical evolution of insect form through 3D computer modelling.

Outcome: Computer coding has long been used by biologists to mimic or analyse codes and structures in the natural world. 3D printing can offer engaging ways for this use of digital data to be used as teaching aid. Models of structures or things could be found on the internet and printed out as objects to enhance learning or simple projects can be set using the process of digital technology and 3D printing that will enhance the understanding of natural systems and our biological world.

Age group: 13 years upwards

Estimated time: 120 hours (print time not included)

Resources: Insect reference material, Tinkercad online software, 3D printer.

1. Open Tinkercad online 3D modelling software –
2. Sign in or create and account with Autodesk 123D –
3. Select Create new design
4. Find Geometric in the left hand tool bar, left mouse click on a shape and left click in the working area.
• To Scale shape, left mouse click on white corner cube and pull. For uniform or all over scale hold down shift key while pulling
• To Size a shape in any direction pull on the little black boxes around the selected object.
• To Move a shape left/right and backward/forward, with the curser over the shape hold down left mouse button and move
• To Move a shape up/down left click on the black arrow above the shape and move up and down
• To Copy a shape select the shape then press key Ctrl and C.
• To Paste a copy press key Ctrl and V. (Then move new shape)
• To Rotate a shape when selected move mouse over double arrowed curved icons, left click and move mouse.
• To Multiple Select either box select (hold left mouse and pull across) or hold down key Shift while selecting with the left mouse button.
• To Stick Shapes Together select two or more shapes (box or shift select) then press Group button, upper right
• To Make a Symmetrical Copy first make a copy, select the copy, click Adjust button (top centre) and select Mirror. Then select the direction of symmetry/mirroring with the arrow below the shape
• To Cut a shape. Select a shape from Geometric shapes (right tool bar) that will do the cutting. Place, size and scale this shape to fit over your first shape where you want to cut or make a hole. With this second cutting shape selected select Hole in the Inspector window (Upper right). Now select first and second shape (box select or Shift right click) and right mouse click on Group button (Top right)
5. With a combination of the above commands you should be able to 3D model a bug. Remember to make a hole somewhere for a string tag to be tied on
• To Export the Model to 3D print, click the Design Button (top left) go down to Download for 3D Printing and click, a window opens and chose the .STL button and click. The 3D.stl file should download to your computer. This file can then be opened in the 3D printer slicing software
6. Print

Notes on Tinkercad Navigation:
• Use the tools top left in the modelling window
• Left mouse button press on a shape selects and moves a shape
• Centre mouse button press pan moves the modelling world (left/right & up/down)
• Centre mouse wheel zooms modelling world
• Right mouse button press revolves modelling world

Keywords/tags: – 3D Printing, Biology, Symmetry, Tinkercad, Tinkercad

Alde Valley High School
Information: Jonathan Keep