Introduction to the Course

Welcome to the JMU 3SPACE classroom! For the duration of the semester you’ll have swipe card access to this room. Please follow the rules and regulations of this space. The short version: keep your prints small, don’t mess with the machines, report any problems, clean up after yourself, and respect the calendar.


Hi everybody. My name is Dr. Laura Taalman and you can call me Dr. Taalman or Professor Taalman or Dr. Laura or even Laura if you want. I prefer not to be referred to by M-things like “Ms”, “Mrs”, or “Miss”, but I’ll make an exception for “Ma’am” if you’re particularly southern. My pronouns are she/her.

  • Survey: If you’re reading this while waiting for class to start on the first day, then please have a chat with your classmates and fill out the paper surveys that have been passed out.
  • Faces: I have trouble with names/faces so I’m going to hand around my phone(!) and ask each of you to put a selfie and your name into an app that I will use to help me remember you.
  • Roll Call: When class begins, I’ll go through the class roll to get your preferred names and to let you introduce yourself to the class. 🙂

3D print something!

Download this Penny Trap “puzzle” and 3D print it. Each computer station has two printers, so everyone can print their own copy. Follow the directions at the Using the 3SPACE Printers page. At the halfway point you’ll have to pause and insert a penny, then resume the print.

Course Overview

In the first few weeks of this course you’ll learn about various types of puzzles and games, and get familiar with the digital fabrication equipment in 3SPACE and the Carrier Library Makery, including 3D printers, laser cutters, carving machines, 3D scanners, and more.

For the rest of this course you’ll take a deep dive into a particular type of puzzle of your choice and research, experiment, and iterate until you make something new and/or take an existing puzzle or game to the next level. At the end of the course you’ll present your work in a short talk and a class gallery showcase.

So what is a 3D puzzle anyway? I’ve brought a big box of puzzles for us all to look through, including cube/burr puzzles, illusions, impossible objects, games, and more. And here are some video examples:

Accounts and Assignments

Here’s your first assignment; we can start it in class if we have time, and get as far as we can. Whatever we don’t finish in class you will do on your own and turn in before noon on Wednesday (two hours before class starts).

  • Go to the class website at and open this Instructor Post so you can access the links
  • Log in to the class Canvas page
  • Log in to WordPress (see the Signing up for Accounts page for details)
  • Start your Portfolio and begin working on your Hello section
  • To finish your Hello section you’ll have to make accounts at Tinkercad, Thingiverse, and Sketchfab (see the Signing up for Accounts page again)
  • Make sure you’re satisfied every part of the rubric for the assignment as shown on Canvas, and then turn in the assignment by copying the *live* (not edit window) URL of your Portfolio post and submitting it to the Canvas assignment.
  • There is one more assignment due before next class, in which you will do some preliminary internet research on puzzles and then report on the results as the second section in your Portfolio post. Go to the Calendar to see the listing, and check out the Canvas assignment to see the instructions/rubric.
  • Make sure everything is turned in to Canvas by noon on Wednesday. I will grade your assignments before the start of class.