A jigsaw to become a monk again

Designed and developped in Fab Lab Bariloche

Science & biology Education

It’s an educational project where 3D printing skulls of real ancestors are used to teach human evolution. First, students have to order the skulls in the timeframe and to share with us their hypothesis. They can manipulate the skulls, measure them and exchange about their assumptions within their team. All the team share their proposition and hypothesis, they all discussed it and try to convince each other with their arguments and eventually we showed them the reality and explain them the specificities and clue to find the real order. The idea is to involve them from the beginning, as archeologists, to appropriate the principles.

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Technologies used

3D printing
  • What’s the project story?

As a biology teacher in the Universidad Nacional del Comahue, I was always looking for new ways of teaching and transmitting knowledge to my students. In parallel, I discovered digital fabrication with the Fab lab Bariloche and the number of possibilities it offers for my area, especially with the 3D printing. After a few months using it, I had the idea to create material for my practical course in human evolution. In this course, the last of the year for the students, we used to teach them about the skull evolution with photos and some few and fragile 3D models made in resin. I decided to look for 3D real skulls models of ancestors from 6 million years ago to now on Internet and I founded 3 websites (www.morphosource.org, www.africanfossils.org, and https://sketchfab.com/). Among the 30 skulls discovered by archeologists, I succeeded to get 18 digital models including the most relevant for my course, such as the one of Lucy. I adapted them to be printed in 3D, I changed the scale (1/2) and added a number in the left eye and the University or Lab logo in the right eye. After hours of printing and several trials, I got a perfect set of skulls.

  • How the workshop was useful?

They taught me 3D printing and supported me all along the project to adapt the 3D models and print them all. They also gave me the contact of other labs to replicate the project in other places of Argentina.

  • What’s the project’s greatest success so far?

I worked side by side with my colleague Martin Moline, who teaches the theoretical part, and together we transformed the course by mixing theory and practice without any question of the perimeter. We shared the same objective and we succeeded! The first trial we made 2 weeks ago with a group of 6 students was great: they were really involved and understood really fast the principles that used to take hours before.

  • What’s your greatest failure(s)& lesson(s) so far?

The most difficult part is the resources to reproduce it. The idea is to make more set of skulls so that every school can benefit from it but it requires a 3D printer dedicated for days to this project and it is very rare to find it for free in the region. So we need a fund to replicate it.

  • What’s your vision for the project & next steps?

We have all the material ready to teach the class. We even adapted it for younger with a smaller set of skulls. Now we are waiting for the answer of the event “Mision DINO” organizers to test it with a larger and younger public. We are also waiting for the answer of the institutions who gave us the models to get the right in order to share the 3D models in open source. Our objective is to allow anyone interested to benefit from our work and to inspire teachers to change their way of teaching.

  • How anyone interested can contribute to the project?

Contact us and start working together to spread this knowledge of human evolution and the interest of biology in an interactive way!

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