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16 February 2022

3D climate change creativity

Richard Smith profile image
Written by

Richard Smith

I often ask students to research facts about ‘climate change’. However, I usually end up feeling that they have been consuming content rather than creating their own.

For a while, I have been thinking about reversing the whole process. How would it be if students created a piece of content as a starting point to finding out more about the context afterwards? This content could then be adapted based on research.

Creating a model of a solar panel is a great place to start. Renewable energy creation is a key strategy for reducing climate change.

In terms of practicality, the project offers a good entry point as it involves creating only cuboids that can be copied and pasted. The whole solar array can then be tilted at an angle and a base added.

Year 6 student Phoebe created the model above as part of a Climate Change project at Teagues Bridge Primary in Telford. It took about 30 minutes. Afterwards, the most incredible thing happened. Two students came up to Phoebe and asked if they could try designing a wind turbine. Here is one of their creations.

After the lesson Richard interviewed Phoebe:

Mr Smith: ‘What did you do in this lesson?’

Phoebe: ‘I created my own model of a solar farm which gives me a positive feeling. You have to learn about solar panels, which are dark blue in colour. You have fun at the same time.

Mr Smith: ‘Was it easy to use?’

Phoebe: ‘I found it quite simple to use after a little bit of time exploring the software. It saved my work automatically. Mr Smith taught me how to group shapes and then duplicate them.’

Mr Smith: ‘any more comments?’

Phoebe: ‘It is really useful and great fun to use. I think all Year 5s and upwards could use it. I helped my friend to create a wind turbine. She is wondering why most turbines have three blades rather than 4.’



1. The question linked to the number of blades on a turbine could be an appropriate place to encourage research from individuals, groups or a class.


I have created a  PDF of shortcuts that is useful to staff and students.

series of 6 lessons for Year 6 around 3D modelling has been written by the  NCCE. This includes a very useful  learning graph.

Check out the YouTube tutorials here:

Video 1:

Video 2:

Tinkercad provide really useful advice for teachers and learners 

Please share thoughts and ideas in the comments section below.


Pete Dring
16/02/2022 14:17

This looks great - thank you :slight_smile:

20/02/2022 12:23

Thanks Pete. That means a lot to because I love your resources. I have created a lesson to support this on the CAS resources page. The link is here. Creating a 3D model of a solar panel It includes 2 help videos and a ‘shortcuts’ sheet.

Helen Cotton
02/03/2022 14:24

Love this idea, Richard. Thank you.

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