Chinese Coin

NMCA Online Course

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Think like a historian and make a chinese coin.

Historians use coins to understand ancient cultures. The shapes and images of coins tell us a lot about a civilization, including the technologies they used to manufacture metals, their economy, their writing and number systems, and the symbols that were important to them.


In this project, you apply your knowledge of chinese history and create a virtual model of an ancient chinese coin. After completing the sample chinese coin, students are encouraged to develop their own designs and apply their knowledge of the software to generate multiple concepts for alternative designs.

Inspire others and share your coin design on the Autodesk Digital Steam Workshop.

Project Brief: Ancient Chinese Coin

“Design thinking” skills can be developed while thinking about the form, function, aesthetics, and creation of currency such as coins. Students should think critically about the design features included in money, the functional and aesthetic design requirements, available resources and technology for manufacturing, and more as they create a 3D model of a coin. Students begin by formulating and answering some key questions:

• What is the primary function of the coin?
• What are the design features that will support the basic function of the coin?
• What is the ideal size, shape, and weight of the coin?
• What materials are best suited to make a coin?
• How will you express symbolic elements in your coin?
• How will you use artwork in the coin design?
• What time period, geographic location, and people is your coin designed for?
• What cultural message does your coin convey?

For this coin project, the first task is to develop basic skills in using Autodesk® 123D Design® software to develop concepts as part of the Design Thinking ideation stage. After completing the sample Chinese coin, students are encouraged to develop their own designs and apply their knowledge of the software to generate multiple concepts for alternative designs. The bottom line is this: if students can expand and enhance their ability to combine the innovation capabilities of the software, the power of the design thinking process, and elements of history, then the goals of this curriculum have been achieved.

Design considerations used in the example project are as follows:

• Purpose: Is the coin a practical design that could achieve its intended function?
• Design: What does the coin look like? What is the coin made of? How large is it?
• Audience: Who will be using the coin? What is important to them?
• Mass production: Can the coin design scale up to mass production?
• Scheduling requirements: 5 to 6 hours

In this course, you will demonstrate knowledge of the following concepts:

• Historians and social scientists study artifacts to discover how societies operated, the technologies they employed, the values that shaped their culture, and the events that influenced subsequent cultures and historical periods.
• The field of archeology plays a critical role in the discovery, validation, and examination of artifacts such as coins that help illuminate historic events, civilizations, and their impact on the world.
• The tools and materials that were used in the original creation of historic artifacts provide critical clues about a society in terms of its knowledge, technical capabilities, and connections to other societies.
• The functional and aesthetic qualities of historical artifacts such as coins convey extensive information about a civilization’s economy, its trade connections and practices, and the commodities it valued.
• The ornamentation incorporated into currency can provide valuable insights regarding the religious, social beliefs, and value systems of a society.
• Software such as Autodesk 123D Design can support learning and engagement by providing students with tools that enable them to re-create and/or reinterpret artifacts based on textbook content, original source documents and/or existing artifacts.
• Software such as 123D Make, in conjunction with rapid prototyping technologies that include 3D printing and laser cutting, can be used to translate virtual models of historic artifact re-creations or interpretations into 3D physical models.

By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:

• Articulate the importance of studying historical artifacts in order to develop a deeper understanding of the past.
• Demonstrate skills in conducting historical research related to currency design.
• Demonstrate skills in using Autodesk 123D software to create an historically and culturally relevant coin design.
• Think critically about the design and aesthetic aspects of money.
• Articulate an understanding of basic concepts about economics, currency, and exchange.
• Demonstrate skills related to incorporating virtual and physical representations of historical artifacts into a variety of presentation formats that can include written essays, and oral and visual presentations.
• Demonstrate competence in effectively utilizing digital media.