SketchUp on Chromebooks!

When my friend Dave Ternent and I started teaching a middle school STEM course back in 2012, one of the first tools that we selected for the course was SketchUp.

SketchUp is a free 3D modeling computer program made by Trimble and, for a while, owned by Google.  It was the perfect introduction to 3D-modeling, architecture and engineering for middle schoolers: powerful, but relatively easy to learn.

After seeing the awesome Matt England present at a local tech conference about his use of SketchUp with middle schoolers we even had information from someone who had used it about how to best introduce it.  Matt was kind enough to share his resources during the session.

Based on Matt’s information, we had our students make shapes with certain dimensions as they learned to use it (see image).  After that, they moved up to creating a 3-hole putt-putt (mini-golf) course that fit within a certain area (see image).  They got very creative with those courses, which is great, but you could also extend this to tons of curriculum standards!  Surface area, Roman architecture, volume, locations from literature, measurement, earthquake-resistant houses, perimeter, developing cities . . . I could go on and on.  But I stopped using SketchUp.  Why?  It didn’t work on Chromebooks.

Until recently! SketchUp is now available on the web, which means that you can use it on Chromebooks!  Check out the animated GIF below showing me using SketchUp.  Imagine the possibilities for students!

SketchUp Shapes
In this activity, students had to create certain shapes based on provided descriptions. i.e., Create a right triangle with a 5-foot hypotenuse.
Another student’s 3-hole putt-putt course, complete with a small shed for the employee & storage
SketchUp on Chromebooks Animation

 

Test your Chromebook Battery

As another school year comes to a close, many schools are packing up their Chromebooks for a 3rd, 4th or even 5th year.  These older Chromebooks are likely (or will soon start) experiencing battery issues.  This is a great time to check their battery health in preparation for next school year.  Here’s how (there’s also a GIF at the bottom of the post):

  1. Close all open tabs.
  2. Open Crosh (Chrome OS Developer Shell) using Ctrl+Alt+T
  3. Type “battery_test 30” and press enter.
  4. The first number that reads out is your battery’s health (from 0-100%).  The higher it is, the better.  As a general rule of thumb, if it’s over 50% on an older Chromebook, you’re in pretty good shape.
  5. After 30 seconds (the number you typed in above) you’ll see how fast your Chromebook is discharging.  You could’ve typed in a smaller number to make it go faster, but the test may not have been as reliable.  If it’s discharging at a rate of more than 0.10% in 30 seconds, you may have issues in the future.

Of course, a weak or rapidly discharging battery is not a big deal if the device can be plugged in throughout the day.  But if you’re in a 1-to-1 school where students carry Chromebooks from class to class, a battery that is under 50% health and discharging faster than 0.10% in 30 seconds won’t make it through the day.

Chromebook Battery Test Animation