Build a Better Phone Stand Lesson

by nguyenever, published

Build a Better Phone Stand Lesson by nguyenever Aug 11, 2016

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Project #10 - Build a Better Phone Stand Lesson

In this project/3D design lesson, students will have the opportunity to design their own personal phone stand for their smartphone by designing, printing, testing different ideas for how to make a functional phone stand that can hold up a phone vertically and horizontally. All components of the stand are to be made out of 3D printing materials (ABS recommended).

With the emphasis on engineering design and creative applications of science being into the Next Generation Science Standards, there are many correlations that 3D printing and 3D design both teach that will enhance a student's learning experience in whatever scientific discipline they are studying. This project is an example of how 3D printing a useful real-world device can help develop a student's understanding of science and its many applications.

Print Settings


Flashforge 3D Creator Pro










Rafting and external support are required for this print to come out properly (if usually the original file). The infill % should be at least 15% to make sure the attachment for the phone stand will be able to withstand the stress forces when used vertically.


Completed phone stand. Butterflies are covering up some names that were etched into this particular stand.

How I Designed This

Phone stand design created on Sketchup

Overview and Background

This project allows students to engage in a design competition/lesson that instructs them to create a functioning phone stand using only 3D printed materials. After designing a prototype 3D model and refining it, students will then 3D print their phone stands and test them with the guidance of their instructor to determine the reasons for why their phone stand performs effectively or ineffectively.

This type of project is important given the way in which it engages students in engineering design and allows them to readily test their conceptual knowledge of different science disciplines in the goal of applying this knowledge to create a real-world device that can solve a particular need, such as having something that can hold a smartphone device vertically or horizontally. Given the relative ease of learning the basics of 3D printing and 3D design, students will be immersed in an environment that is creatively engaging and technically complex.


  • Students will design a real world device, such as the phone stand example in this project, that can function in different configurations.
  • Students will 3D print and evaluate the performance of their 3D designs (such as the functionality of their phone stands).

Lesson Plan and Activity

Step 1: Explain activity to students

Step 2: Form groups of 2-4 and have them brainstorm on paper some ideas for a phone stand

Step 3: Have groups go into a 3D modeling software to produce a prototype model

Step 4: Once prototype is finalized, have each model printed for each group

Step 5: Have each group test their phone stands and evaluate ways to improve their design in the future

Step 6: Identify exemplar phone stands from the class and debrief the activity in terms of connecting engineering design to the learning of science

Skills Learned (Standards):
HS-ETS1-2. Design a solution to a complex real-world problem, based on scientific knowledge, student-generated sources of evidence, prioritized criteria, and tradeoff considerations.by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable problems that can be solved through engineering.

Class Breakdown:
1st/2nd Class:
-Explaining the project, allow students to get into groups, brainstorming session, and 3D modeling a prototype

3rd/4th Class:
-Finalizing the prototype, 3D printing the phone stands, testing them, evaluating exemplar phone stands, debriefing the lesson

Materials Needed

  • lab area/workspace to design/test phone stands
  • The teacher must have enough filament to print out student phone stands
  • a cardboard cutout can be used in lieu of an actual smartphone for students who do not own a smartphone/cannot borrow one from another classmate
  • phones for testing (students may use their own)
  • 3D printers to make the phone stands
  • laptops with 3D modeling software (SketchUp, TinkerCAD)
  • ruler or calipers for measurement/testing

Duration of Lesson

4 classes

Rubric and Assessment

Teachers can evaluate the custom phone stands based on:

  • Aesthetics* (1-5) - Is the phone stand a marketable invention? Is it visually appealing to use/accompany with a phone device?

  • Function* (1-5) - Is the phone stand capable of holding a phone vertically and horizontally? Does it have a feature to allow different viewing angles at these positions? Is it easy to place any type of phone into the stand?

  • Reliability* (1-5) - Can the phone stand withstand phones of different sizes/weights? Is the phone stand resilient enough to withstand being dropped/moved around?

  • Engineering Excellence (1-5) - Overall, is this project designed proficiently with form and function in mind?



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