Wildly popular fidget spinners inspire kids to learn

3D Printed Spinners for Students

As you probably already know, “fidget spinners” are all the rage right now. Similar to worry stones or squeezable desk toys, spinners are designed to help relieve stress and anxiety by providing a mindless way to keep your hands occupied.

Always eager to make the latest and greatest, 3Ders have jumped on the spinner craze and produced a wealth of free spinner designs that can be downloaded, 3D-printed, and assembled. So it was not much of a surprise when we were contacted by our friend and customer Kevin Papke, a Science/Technology/Robotics teacher for over 20 years at MacArthur Fundamental Intermediate School in Santa Ana, CA.

Newly created fidget spinners fresh out of an AXIOM 3D printer.

Kevin is one of those teachers who is constantly on the lookout for ways to incorporate technology trends into his STEM lesson plans as a way of engaging his students and getting them really excited about learning. When Kevin saw the popularity of spinners on the rise, he knew his students would love making fidget toys. And he was right.

“Fidget spinners are going CRAZY at our school,” explained Kevin. “I’ve purchased 500 bearings in four weeks and just ordered 200 more.”

Skateboard bearings for spinners
Skateboard bearings not only make spinners look cool; they are what makes the fidget toy spin.
Students from MacArthur Intermediate School in Santa Ana, CA use an Airwolf 3D printer to bring their spinner designs to life.

Kevin’s students create their spinners using Onshape, a cloud-based CAD program used for designing 3D models. Once their spinner design is done, they print their spinners on their Airwolf 3D printer. The spinners are then assembled using skateboard bearings to make them spin.

The lesson puts kids through the engineering design process, honing their problem-solving, research, and creative skills. But they hardly realize that they are learning some incredibly valuable technical and critical thinking skills because they’re having so much fun. According to Kevin, his students have been so excited about the project that they even have been coming in before and after school to design, print, and assemble their spinners.

3D Printing Spinners
Dozens of 3D-printed spinners ready for assembly.
The finished product: Spinners designed, 3D-printed, and assembled by students from MacArthur Fundamental Intermediate School in Santa Ana, CA.

3D Printers for schools

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