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Rhino Curriculum Guide

This guide provides curriculum ideas and other helpful suggestions for teaching with Rhino.

See this video by Bob Koll on how to use this and other Rhino educational resources.

NOTE: The V6 and later Level 1 training guides contains different exercise numbers and page numbers. v5 to v6 Cheat Sheet: Click the Link

Back to the Rhino in Education site.

Table of Contents

    1. Getting Started - New to Rhino? Start here.
    1. Base Modeling
    2. Documentation and Tutorials
    3. Fabrication Machines
  1. Lesson Material
    1. How about adding your outline here too?
    2. Additional Weekly Lessons - Grasshopper, scripting, etc…
  2. Teacher Additional Helps
    1. Teacher's Tips and Tricks
    2. Fabrication Techniques Articles
      1. Importing and exporting Models - Models to/from Google, 3dmax, Blender, CAM software, Skeinforge, other?
      2. Repairing Models for Rapid prototyping - Do you need to practice file repair? Troubleshooting files for Rapid Prototyping - Is it a closed model?
    3. Export vs import
  3. Rhino in STEM Challenges
    1. What are the challenges / competitions you are participating in? Let us know, we'll add them here.
  4. Educational Standards
    1. STEM
    2. CAD Skills credentials
    3. Digital Fabrication


This guide provides curriculum ideas and other helpful suggestions for computer graphics, drafting, design, engineering, manufacturing, 3D design and art instructors who want to incorporate Rhinoceros® NURBS modeling for Designers into their program. The guide includes curriculum ideas as well as a complete sample 15 week and 10 week syllabus. Use as much or as little from this guide as you need, or change it to fit your particular needs. This guide gives you a starting point for teaching 3D modeling. If you choose to customize the guide, the original document is in Microsoft Word format and is included as a download (not available as a single download yet).

Rhino can be used in almost any curriculum that teaches 2D layout or 3D modeling. This guide uses design and problem solving activities as well as step-by-step instruction to teach NURBS modeling.

Rhino is a powerful design and visualization tool you can use with most computers running Windows. Use it to create designs and 3D images that would be difficult to make or take a very long time with other CAD or drawing programs. Rhino lets students create models quickly without having to go through weeks of instruction to make something that is precise and looks realistic. Many students can create simple models in less than ten minutes after some demonstration and instruction.

Students can continue beyond modeling. Once a model is completed in Rhino, it can then be used with other applications to further enhance a project. For example, students can create a model and export the file to a CNC machine for prototyping or manufacturing. Or they can render the model and use it on web pages, newsletters, and presentations. Using Rhino plug-ins like Flamingo, Penguin, and Bongo, the student can render, illustrate, and animate the model. In addition, models can be exported to most other design, rendering, and animation software applications.

The biggest decision to make is your approach to teaching Rhino. We will discuss two approaches in this document: technical proficiency and technical adequacy.

Classroom Setup

When setting up the classroom, you will need to install these products:

  1. Base Modeling, rendering and drafting
    1. Rhinoceros Software
  2. Documentation and tutorials
    1. Rhino Level 1 - Manual and models for level 1 Rhino Training.
    2. User's Guide - The new Rhino 5 User's Guide which includes tutorials, models, and instruction.
    3. User Guide tutorials - Pdf's and models.
    4. Rhino Level 2 - Manual and models for Level 2 Rhino Training.
  3. Computer Programming in Rhino
    1. RhinoScript - Manual and scripts for learning to 'Program' with Rhino Visual Basic inside Rhino.
    2. Python script - Manual and scripts for learning to 'Program' with Python inside Rhino.
    3. Grasshopper - Everything Grasshopper for Drag & Drop programming inside Rhino. → See Grasshopper (#2, below) for basic videos and tutorials.
  1. Fabrication Machines
    1. Vinyl Cutter → Look for a windows print driver for your vinyl cutter and cut directly from Rhino.
      1. Rhino → VE LXI
      2. Rhino → Roland Stika or Camm I
    2. Desktop Laser → Look for a windows print driver for your laser and cut directly from Rhino.
      1. Rhino → Full Spectrum Laser based on a 40 watt machine; experiment as necessary.
      2. Rhino → Hurricane Laser
      3. Rhino → Laser Pro
      4. Rhino → Trotec Laser
      5. Rhino → Universal / Versa Laser
    3. 3D printer → Export your 'closed' Rhino model as .stl file type. Model must be 'watertight'.
      1. Rhino → Afinia Up
      2. Rhino → Cube
      3. Rhino → DaVinci
      4. Rhino → MakerBot
      5. Rhino → RigidBot
    4. CNC Router → 2D curves = export .dxf ↔ 3D model = export .stl
      1. Rhino → Shopbot - Partsworks 2D & 3D
      2. Rhino → CNC Shark - VCarve Pro and Cut 3D
      3. Rhino → Other router software
    5. CAM Computer Aided Machining → 2d curves = export .dxf ↔ 3D model = export .igs or .stl
      1. Rhino → MadCAM MadCAM is fully integrated into Rhino.
      2. Rhino → RhinoCAM RhinoCAM is fully integrated into Rhino.
      3. Rhino → GibbsCam Gibbs opens Rhino 3dm files directly.
      4. Rhino → MasterCAM MasterCAM opens Rhino 3dm files directly.
      5. Other CAM software
    6. CNC Plasma Cutter → 2D curves exported as .dxf will open in your Plasma cut software.
      1. Rhino → Plasma Cam
      2. Rhino → Techno Plasma
      3. Rhino → Torchmate CNC
      4. Rhino → TruCutCNC
  2. Common add-ons
    1. Grasshopper Click Galleries and Tutorials links to 'play'.
      1. Do: Work along with the video and create two staircases, one straight stairs and one circular stairs.
      2. Watch: 3D puzzles with Grasshopper Challenging but interesting.
      3. Watch: Introduction to Grasshopper Very basic. Old but good.
    2. Bongo - If you will be teaching the animation of objects
    3. Flamingo nXt - Easy Rendering in Rhino
    4. Brazil - High end rendering in Rhino
  3. Other useful tools
    1. Realplayer - Download and save videos from the 'web' for use in your classroom. This is especially useful if the school has blocked YouTube, Vimeo, and other social media sites.
    2. Inkscape - A free bitmap to vector conversions and other drawing tools. More information on the Rhino in Education Tutorials page: Rhino In Education, Tutorials page
    3. - A free paint program to edit bitmaps and other images.

Curriculum Approach

Technical Proficiency (Skills Based)

Technical proficiency is learning NURBS modeling as a subject using Rhino. It requires a structured approach to learning. Each command and technique is presented and practiced on a daily basis. The following sample schedule is based on using the Rhino Level 1 Training Manual as a textbook. Students will become familiar with most of the commands available in Rhino before they begin their design projects. The sample schedule can be modified to take from four to six weeks to cover the basics of Rhino.

This approach allows for mastery of the program with fewer projects. While this approach requires more structured class time to learn the software, they will have a broad range of skills in which to complete any project.

Sample Schedule

Week Subject Training Guide Section
1 Rhino basics, create two-dimensional objects,
simple editing commands
Chapter 2 & 3
2 Precision modeling Chapter 4
3 Editing Chapter 5 & 6
4 Solids modeling, surface modeling Chapter 7, 8, & 9
5 Importing and exporting, dimensioning,
printing, rendering
Chapter 10, 11, 12 & 13
6–18 Projects (See Sample Activities)

Technical Adequacy (Project Based)

Technical adequacy is using Rhino as a tool. It requires students to learn only those commands that will help them finish a project. Only the most frequently used commands and techniques are presented. Other commands will be learned as needed (just-in-time learning).

With this approach, students are involved in more projects and learn how to model in Rhino through problem solving activities. The following sample schedule represents the most common commands used to make most of the objects students will model. There are advanced tools that will let them get greater precision and accuracy with their design, but these can be left for later.

Demonstrating commands needed for each project can take as little as five minutes. The total time used to teach Rhino can be as little as two and a half weeks or as long as a quarter. Once students see how it works, they can practice and create designs with each new tool. It is important that students not only create designs that are assigned to them, but also be allowed to make their own.

Also, for the first few weeks, along with teaching Rhino, some lessons on fabrication machine operation and safety procedures are helpful. The first few projects may be focused on various fabrication techniques, allowing students to see how each machine works.

Notice that this approach lets you introduce students to a wide variety of commands in the first two weeks and gets them started with modeling very quickly. With this method, you should use the Rhino Level 1 Training Manual as a reference. The Rhino User Guide is complete with tutorial models that build on the introductory tutorials below.

Day Project Training Guide Section
1 Create a Castle 3D Solids, Move/Copy/Rotate
2 Design a Logo Extrude, Color, Boolean
3 Design a Chair Sweep, Loft
4 Arrow Accuracy Coordinates, Extrude, Revolve
5 Screw Driver Revolve, Array, Boolean Difference
6 Rubber Duck Point editing, trim, blend, join

Design Activity Process

Design Process Workflow (two student groups is ideal)

'Drop Dead Dates' need to be considered as part of the framework for project progress and completion.

All of the sample activities are based on the following design problem format (or similar format):

  1. Problem statement—Give a scenario and the task students must solve.
  2. Limitation/parameters—These are the things like materials used, time, cost, boundaries of the design solution and other information affecting the final design.
  3. Brainstorm solutions—Sketchy, hand drawn ideas. Set a minimum number expected.
  4. Select best one—Should provide rationale of their selection.
  5. Develop idea/prototype/finalize idea—This is the just do it phase.
  6. Test/evaluate solution—Should provide an analysis on the design and any conclusions.
  7. Redesign/retest if possible—Time consuming, but valuable experience.
  8. Presentation—Finished assignment presented to the class.

Design Loops

Organizing the Activity

Instructor Student
Arrange students into groups (details to follow). Students get into groups and go to assigned areas.
Instruct students on the design challenge (give them the problem handout). Make sure they understand the parameters of the designs (See Sample Activities section). Read the handout.
Instruct them to begin drawing ideas on paper. Students Brainstorm Designs
Instruct them to model in Rhino. Students begin drawing their designs on paper and modeling their products on the computer.
Review objects with students to determine
if they meet the design parameters.
If not, have them fix.
Peer review (details to follow). Students analyze their material against the parameters to insure it meets the criteria.

Instructional Material

  • Display examples of similiar products.
  • Find online videos of engineering concept.
  • Try to include items of different shapes, materials, and sizes.
  • Search online for image examples.
  • Base projects on objects the students have.

Group Collaboration Model

Working in engineering is about working on a team and working on a team that has to work with other teams. This mode of working can be modeled in the classroom in various ways. Here are two to consider:

  • Working in teams on part of a classroom project. Each team working on a different section of the design.
  • Working on teams as a multi-school project. Each class is its own team working with teams from other schools to complete a project.

Project Personalization

An effective model to allow some design process and at the same time be involved with more technically advanced projects is to use a model made up of component parts. Each student chooses to model one or more of the parts. This part is either replicated or redesigned as a new / improved part of the finished model. This part is then assembled with parts from other students to complete the model. This can be quite exciting and instructional for students. This is a good way to control the complexity of projects.

Multi-Level Class

When your class includes students with computer drawing experience varying from basic to advanced, you will have to do some grouping. Students with similar experience form groups and work together as a team. Students can be separated into levels—basic, intermediate, and advanced. The example below is based on the bottle design activity (see sample activities). Minimum objectives for each group are shown in the following table:

Levels Rhino Capabilities Used
(Basic Navigation and following:)
Type of Bottle
Other Projects
(Or other objects chosen)
Basic Line/Curve, Solid primitives,
Boolean operations, Revolve, Rendering
Any bottle Glasses filled with a liquid
Intermediate All above and the following:
Extrude, Sweep, Transparent
materials rendering
Bottle with
wall thickness
All above and following:
Advanced All above and the following:
Lofts, Control points editing, Surface
tools, Text tools and
Irregularly shaped
bottle with label
All above and following:
Interior walls
Floor and windows

Grading Rubric

This grading rubric is included to help students understand what is expected and the critical parts of their project development. It reflects on instructor's bias toward achieving excellence. The grading scale can be interpreted as 4.0=A. 3.0=B, 2.0=C, 1.0=D, 0.0=F. In this scale, half points could be interpreted as pluses or minuses. This rubric is organized into Groups which have different sections that can be applied to different project types:

  • Group A - Project
    1. Process planning - All projects
    2. Time Frame - All projects
  • Group B - Documentation
    1. Measurement & Sketch Accuracy
      1. Dimensioning
      2. Sketch details
    2. 2D CAD Drawing
    3. 3D Representation
      1. Model Accuracy
      2. Views and Representation
  • Group C - Fabrication
    1. Safety Check and pre-startup inspection
    2. Making
    3. Inspection
    4. Part Fit and Function
  • Group D - Final Presentation of Project
    1. Written
    2. Speaking

Ideas for Design Assignments

One of the best ways to get students to learn how to use Rhino is to have them make real world objects. Encourage them to figure out how to break down an object into various modeling operations and then do it with precision. Here are some examples to give to students so they can practice their skills:

Kleenex box
Pop can/bottle
Dice (4, 6, 8 sided)
Flower vase
Table with objects on top of it
Drinking cups
Christmas ornaments
Squirt bottle
Screwdriver, nails, clamps
Jewelry box
DVD case
Radio, speakers
Table or desk lamp
Tube of toothpaste, toothbrush
Computer, monitor, printer
School desk, office chairs
Watch, alarm clock
DVD player, stereo
Dishes/pots & pans
Stove/dishwasher, Appliance
Lipstick, mascara, perfume bottle, Sculpture piece
Overhead projector
Hammer, wrench, pliers
iPod or Android Music Player
Electric wheel chair
Phone / Camera
Car, truck, train
Roller blades
Sunglasses, safety glasses
Tennis shoe
Airplane, helicopter, Drone
Computer mouse, FLash drive
Piano, musical instruments
Child’s pull toy
Hat, helmet
Cell phone, remote control, Robot

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people/rhino5cir.txt · Last modified: 2023/09/14 (external edit)