3D Printers for Geology Education

3D Printers for Teaching Geology, Geography, & Paleontology

3D printers for schools are quickly making headway in classrooms across the country, integrating with various subjects in many unique ways. Regardless of your specific scholastic discipline, a 3D printer will find its worth in any topic that you’re looking to teach.  The applications are diverse, and the impact far reaching.  Among the many other benefits, the significant integration with progressive learning methods alone is enough to ensure that 3D printers are rapidly becoming a vital classroom fixture.  In the article below, we look more closely at some of the ways in which schools are implementing 3D printers for geology education.

3D Printers for Geology Education

In the world of geology, rocks rule. However, rocks can be heavy, bulky, and in some cases, unattainable depending on the type you’re looking for. For geology teachers, 3D printers help bridge the gap. From cross sectional areas of our earth’s crust to recreations of beautiful quartz crystal formations, 3D printing is helping to duplicate our natural world. Students are able to view and observe recreated rocks and minerals directly from the classroom. Teachers can download and print scanned models of crystal formations, volcanic rocks, and other items for closer examination.

For geography, learning contour elevations and markers on flat 2D maps is a vital part of the curriculum. With 3D printing, those same maps are given depth and dimension, allowing students to view the elevation changes in slopes, water features, mountains, and hills. Geography teachers can now add dimension to a student’s learning, presenting features that help students get a better idea of topology.

Paleontology has already contributed to the 3D printing community, allowing students and scientists to recreate bones of dinosaurs or other extinct species. Even during on-site digs, technicians can scan bones underground and fabricate the model in plastic. Alternatively, 3D printing and scanning lets paleontologists recreate bones that are missing from a dig site or damaged. Need to show a dinosaur bone to the class? Have a T-Rex jaw printed in the morning and ready for discussion by the afternoon.

Bring Digital Imagery to Life

Departments are finding new ways to leverage 3D printing for purposes of observing and studying rocks, minerals, and elements.  The ability to physically hold and manipulate objects of study adds a dimension that’s unattainable through digital-only imagery.

Replica Rocks

In various earth science curriculums, 3D printers are empowering teachers with the ability to create replica samples of our earth right in the classroom.

Enhance Understanding

3D printing is helping students create models, presentations, and displays to assist in their learning.  The process of manipulating and fabricating physical object replicas necessarily results in a greater understanding of the object being replicated.

Case Study: Using 3D Printers for Geology Education

Franek Hasiuk is a geologist at Iowa State University, and also the founder of a centralized hub at the school that’s dedicated to developing and using 3D printing for the teaching of geology. GeoFabLab offers a number of models for download including crystal formations, fossils, and even “touchable topography” models such as Sheep Mountain in Wyoming. 3D printing offers a number of benefits to his program. Students can explore recreated rock samples, analyzing fractures and fissures to understand the correlation of pore space to fluid flow. Fossil specimens otherwise too fragile or rare to be handled by students are now scanned and 3D printed, making handheld interaction of the replica risk free.

Hasiuk, a former petroleum geologist, summed it up best:  “In the oil industry, CT scanning of geologic materials is a really cool technology to investigate porous rocks. Just like getting a CT scan of your head lets you see inside, CT scanning lets you see inside rocks without breaking them. I thought, well, it’s 3D data, so why don’t I try to print it?

From 3D topographic maps of Ames, Iowa to Cambrian-era trilobites, 3D printing is galvanizing our approach to observing rocks, bones, and the structure of our land. For more information, consider reading “3D-Printed Fossils & Rocks Could Transform Geology”.

3D Printers for Geology Education here at 3D Supply Guys

Our team at 3D Supply Guys works to help Geology, Geography, and Paleontology departments advance education through 3D printing. We work with teachers to understand their curriculum and recommend a 3D printer package suitable for their requirements. Our educational discount program is designed to maximize value and promote the importance of 3D printing as a fundamental component to student learning methods. We work with each of our customers by providing the resources and training to help save money and revolutionize classrooms. To learn more about our 3D printer educational program, please contact sales@3Dsupplyguys.com.