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ScratchyCAD is a 3D-modeling program designed for teaching kids

It’s no secret that the kinds of tech available for kids to try out today is significantly different to that which was available to the average Digital Trends reader back when we were at school.

One of these technologies is 3D modeling, which is playing a key role in everything from 3D printing to virtual reality. But while more and more classrooms are investing in 3D printers and VR headsets, the modeling process necessary for building virtual worlds and constructing original additive manufacturing designs is still complicated.

That’s where ScratchyCAD comes into play. Created by a group of 3D-printing entrepreneurs, educators, designers and programmers, the idea behind ScratchyCAD is to create 3D modeling software targeted at learners. The forthcoming parametric software uses a drag-and-drop interface which makes it straightforward to launch students or other newcomers into the world of 3D design.

“A lot of the time, schools will buy 3D printers because it’s the latest big thing and they don’t want to be left out, but they don’t really know exactly what to do with them,” Sam Weatherly, ScratchyCAD’s PR and sales manager, told Digital Trends. “They end up downloading a few models from the Thingiverse, but that’s not really living up to the full potential of 3D printers — which [involves] applying it to your own life by designing and creating things specific to you.”

That, Weatherly said, is what ScratchyCAD wants to do: make it easy for young learners to come to grips with parametric design. “Put someone who’s never used design software in front of most of the packages available today and their head is going to be spinning,” he said. “Put them in front of ScratchyCAD, and within fifteen minutes they’ll be able to design some pretty impressive models.”

While the software the team has created is straightforward, though, Weatherly took pains to point out that it’s not dumbed-down. In this way, the goal is for it to be  more akin to the kind of transition that graphical user interfaces were from command-line DOS prompts in the 1980s: more intuitive, but certainly not more limiting.

Right now, ScratchyCAD is a couple of weeks away from launching a Kickstarter campaign — offering not just the design tools, but also virtual training courses that will highlight use-cases ranging from 3D printing to video game design. The team will also be appearing next month at the World Maker Faire in New York City, where enthusiasts can try the software out for themselves.