There are lots of people in this world who will try to sell you something if you’re just getting started in the world of STEM. Well, we’re here to tell you that you don’t have to spend a dime to get going; everything you need to give exciting areas of STEM a try you already have access to through the click of a button! At STEM MINDS, we like to use free software as often as possible so that the learning can continue no matter where you are. Here are our top 5 favourite software tools for making that are completely free!
Number one on our list is, of course, TinkerCAD. We can’t get over how awesome this tool is! Get your feet wet with 3D Design using this completely free, browser-based design software. It’s super intuitive and extremely popular, meaning there is support for you no matter your question or area of difficulty.
This is a new discovery for us! Want to get started with web design but have no idea how? Thimble has got you covered. This program is awesome because it has a live preview option when coding in HTML; the left side of your screen is the code, and the right side shows you what that code is doing. Our favourite part of this tool, though, is that there are lots of cool and often hilarious projects already made for you to remix so you can really put your coding skills to the test.
Bloxels is an video game design app that is almost a little too much fun to use. If you’ve ever wanted to design your own video game but have felt a little intimidated, Bloxels is an awesome option! Our favourite part about it is the awesome range of complexity within the app; you can design very basic or surprisingly professional looking platformer-style games all without any prior coding experience!
Scratch, while an awesome tool for beginners, has been done to death. If you’re ready to move on, give Trinket a try! Similar to Thimble, Trinket is an awesome way to explore line coding and provides you with a dual-screen, live preview experience that is super helpful for beginners. There are lots of lesson plans, tutorials, and resources to get you started with coding in Python and Java no matter your prior experience!
Codesters is another great alternative to Scratch. This tool is unique because, like Trinket and Thimble, it has provides a dual screen experience, but this time showing you the relationship between drag-and-drop block coding and the corresponding text-based code in Python! You are able to edit in either context, making it an awesome bridge between drag-and-drop and text-based code. This tool has definitely been a helpful halfway point for some of our more hesitant coding students to build their confidence!
The world of open-source and free tools is so wide, there is often very little need to pay for tools and software. These are just a few of our favourite tools and you would be surprised just how far they can take you! Have any favourites that weren’t mentioned? Give us a shout in the comments so we can check it out!
Written & Authored by Nicole Myers, Director of Curriculum & Business Development