By: Jason Brown
The other day, I was reading a book about dinosaurs to my kids. As I was reading, I thought about how cool it would be to 3D print a dinosaur fossil. I searched online and found many dinosaur fossil drawings but chose one that I recognized from the book, a Tarbosaurus skull.
Using SLS technology, I printed the skull in our omniGRO material. While the skull was printing I decided to research the background of the Tarbosaurus. I learned the Tarbosaurus is a distant cousin to the Tyranosaurus. While the Tyranosaurus is found in North America, the Tarbosaurus is only found in parts of Asia. In fact, it is illegal to remove any fossils found in parts of Asia from that region. But thanks to 3D printing magic, we can easily obtain replicas of these fossils for our schools and museums without ever damaging or removing the artifacts from their place of origin.
When I took the skull home, I decided to have a little fun with it. I buried the skull alongside a dirt path close to my house. I took my kids on one of our daily walks and pointed out to them what looked like a cool white rock poking out of the dirt. My kids began to unearth the rock only to find it was…a dinosaur skull! We quickly cleaned it off and took it home.
Once we were home I told them it wasn’t a real skull but one that I printed at work. They were still so amazed to be holding a fossil in their hands. Even if it was a replica, it was 10 times better that just an image in a book. We looked up more information on the Tarbosaurus together and compared the images we saw with the printed skull. They were able to see how artists rendered drawings based off the actual skull itself. My son’s new favorite dinosaur is now the Tarbosaurus.
I know I am fortunate enough to have the resources available at GROWit to print educational parts like this dino-skull, but I hope to see these resources available in schools across America as well. With the development of technology like this, it would be a shame not to encourage teachers and our youth to think differently about manufacturing and innovation; 3D printing is the way to accomplish this.
MakerBot Academy has already announced their “educational mission” to put a MakerBot Desktop 3D printer in every school in the United States of America. MakerBot believes in educating the next generation of innovative makers by giving them early exposure to 3D printing. Instead of teachers using images to demonstrate an object in class they can create their own 3D version of it. 3D printing in education can change the whole standard of how our children will see innovation and manufacturing in America. 3D printers in classrooms could also encourage kids to follow their passions and hopefully help develop more engineers, architects, industrial designers, artists and entrepreneurs.
“Bringing 3D printing into the classroom exposes learners to the same cutting-edge technologies they’ll encounter in their careers. It gives them a jump-start on tomorrow’s challenges.” (stratasys)
There have been many case studies on how 3D printing has improved education. From fifth-graders embracing STEM education to teens testing their inventions in zero gravity, 3D printing has changed the whole learning dynamic for students.
It is safe to say, 3D printing is going to be a big part of future education.
You DREAM it. We GROWit.