The Maine Learning Technology initiative provides all Maine middle schoolers with an Apple iBook. Google announced recently that they would be donating Sketchup Pro to this initiative for preinstallation on all of the iBooks, as well as all public education computers in the state. Sketchup is Google's easy-to-use three-dimensional modeling application. While no Autocad, the free version is, well, free, and even the Pro version is free to educators. It provides an awful lot of modeling capability in a very intuitive package. According to the Sketchup website:
Developed for the conceptual stages of design, Google SketchUp is a powerful yet easy-to-learn 3D software tool that combines a simple, yet robust tool-set with an intelligent drawing system that streamlines and simplifies 3D design. From simple to complex, conceptual to realistic, Google SketchUp enables you to build and modify 3D models quickly and easily. If you use Google Earth, Google SketchUp allows you to place your models using real-world coordinates and share them with the world using the Google 3D Warehouse.
- Simple: Learn the small toolset quickly
- Fast: Model as fast as you think
- Powerful: Design anything from a shoebox to a skyscraper
- Flexible: Make your models loose/conceptual or tight/accurate
- Fun: Place your models in Google Earth
Sketchup Pro is normally $495 and "is a 3D modeling software tool that allows designers and planners to explore, communicate and present complex 3D concepts." Whether you live in Maine and get it for free (or apply for a free educator license anywhere else), Sketchup is certainly worth the download. The free version is highly functional as well and makes for some great in-class projects. Now if they just had a version for Linux!