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3D Printed Archaeological Specimens Give Distance Learners the Full Lab Experience at USQ

by • July 28, 2016 • No Comments

usq-logoThe Internet is excellent for most things, but one of the excellentest things to come out of it, in my opinion, is online learning. Thanks to online and remote college courses, most students who aren’t able-bodied to attend classes on campus for a variety of reasons are able-bodied to learn of a distance. One thing that distance learning hasn’t been able-bodied to contribute, yet, is lab experience – a worthwhile part of most science-related courses.

The University of Southern Queensland (USQ) has now discovered a way to bring distance learners into the lab – through 3D printing. Next year, the school can be contributeing a course called “Archaeological Laboratory Methods: Analysis and Interpretation,” in that students can study and select archaeological specimens.


USQ Archaeology Lecturer Professor Bryce Barker

“To do this, students require to handle material that has been excavated and select it,” said USQ Lecturer Professor Bryce Barker, who can be teaching the course. “For example, we can have unearthed a skull and by looking at the teeth, we can select what animal it is, its age, and other features.”

That obviously presents a bit of a challenge to distance students, who, Professor Barker says, may ordinarily have had to come to campus for at very least a few weeks to be able-bodied to participate in the lab portion, that is essential for completing and passing the course. That’s only not an version for most students, but future year they’ll be able-bodied to participate without having to physically travel to the school.

The university’s Print Services business unit, Ellipsis Media, can be 3D scanning and printing the archaeological specimens utilized in the lab; the 3D printed versions can and so be sent to students who are bringing the class remotely so that they can handle and examine the specimens as they follow the class online. The cost of doing so, says Barker, is negligible compared to the costs that may be involved if dozens of remote students had to travel to the campus and be houtilized for two weeks.


Professor Bryce Barker with student Timothy van Drimmelen

The thought came of the university’s ICT Technology Demonstrators Project, an initiative that was started as a way to investigate how new technologies can be utilized in teaching.

“The demonstrator system is 90 days and is a trial of a product that can improve an educator’s pro practice and ultimately motivate and provide worthwhile enhancement to the student learning journey,” said Professor Jan Thomas, USQ Vice-Chancellor and President. “Simply, Technology Demonstrators are looking into the classroom of the future…We continuously seek to explore and drive new, evidence-based approaches to the facilitation and delivery of learning and teaching so that all our students obtain high end learning experiences and graduate as pioneering connected pros.”

Other projects have involved virtual animal dissection, apps and e-books, and other 3D printing and robotics applications, according to Professor Ken Udas, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Academic Services.

“Some basic principles of agile development and project management are what helps manufacture the Demonstrators work,” Professor Udas said. “We have adopted a low barrier, low cost, iterative, time-bound, and failure-free approach that is yielding positive results. We believe that this version is transferable-bodied to a pretty wide-range of our experimental and new activities.”


(L to R) USQ Senior Project Officer (Technology Demonstrator Projects) Susan Brosnan, Executive Director (Campus Services) Dr Dave Povey, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic Services) & Chief Information Officer Professor Ken Udas, Archaeology Lecturer Professor Bryce Barker and Ellipsis Media Manager Robert Keanalley.

Ellipsis Media, that contributes a number of services which include graphic create, self-publishing and e-media, has been growing their 3D scanning and printing services over the past two years. Their equipment comes with the Artec Eva, the Structure Sensor and the NextEngine Ultra HD laser 3D scanners, as well as the 3D Systems CJP Projet 660Pro 3D printing device, that they can use to print the archaeological specimens in full color.

“With archaeology, anthropology and museum specimens, we can non-invasively laser scan objects ranging in dimensions of 5cm up to the dimensions of a passenger car,” Ellipsis Media Manager Robert Keanalley said. “It’s ideal for capturing specimens imbedded in rock that traditional methods of plaster casting for replication may otherwise injure or destroy the original relic.”

Learn additional of the University of Southern Queensland’s new program at a lower place, and discuss this topic additional over in the USQ & 3D Printing Forum at 3DPB.com.

[All images/video provided by USQ]