Paper No. 26-4
Presentation Time: 9:10 AM
LASER TEXTURE SCANNING AND 3D PRINTING AS TOOLS FOR GEOSCIENCE EDUCATION AND OUTREACH
Introductory college coursed in the geosciences are commonly where students are first exposed to fundamental geologic concepts and materials such as minerals, rocks, fossil formation and deep time. However, students are often limited in their access to these materials. Study sets are available for students to use in the classroom, but accessing these materials outside of class poses a challenge. Furthermore many important fossil specimens and reference collections of common vertebrate materials are not available to students due to rare and/or fragile nature. While standard injection-molded casts of these specimens are available to educators, casts remains relatively expensive and are often time-consuming to produce. Recent advances in low-cost 3D laser texture scanning and 3D printing have brought these technologies to a variety of industries, classrooms, public demonstrations, and personal use. This project has developed a series of supplemental learning tools in the form of a) interactive 3D PDF files that include digital models of introductory geologic materials that are accessible on a PC or mobile device, b) the development of a collection of 3D printed models of fossils and other geological materials that permit interactive learning, and c) a series of live 3D scanning and printing demonstrations to bring this technology to the public. Commonly-studied introductory geologic materials were digitized with a NextEngine Desktop 3D Laser Texture scanner, converted into interactive 3D PDF files, and distributed to students as a supplemental study aid. In addition to the interactive files, ABS plastic 3D models of previously digitized fossil specimens and 3D topographic maps were printed for classroom use and study. Furthermore a series of live demonstrations of the laser scanning and 3D printing workflow process has been brought to the Burpee Museum of Natural History in Rockford, IL as a way of engaging the public on the incorporation of new technologies in the paleontological and geological sciences. This project promotes a more experiential learning environment for introductory geology students and the public by providing them with interactive learning tools that will assist in laying the foundations of a robust geoscience education and encourages public engagement in other STEM fields.