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Nematodes and Ribosomes and Tardigrades, Oh My! 3D Printed Microorganisms to Star in West Virginia Soil Tunnel Trailer Project

by • August 10, 2016 • No Comments


This dog hanging out in the nearly-consumed Soil Tunnel Trailer appreciates dirt. [Image: Capitol Conservation District]

Most individuals many likely don’t spend much of their time considering of dirt, other than those working in ecology or architecture. Dirt is dirt, right? It gets on your shoes and, consequently, on your floor, and which is annoying, but you can in addition plant stuff in it, which is quite great if you like gardens. Dirt – or, additional accurately, soil – is so much additional, yet, and a group of West Virginia conservationists wants individuals to understand it.

The West Virginia Conservation Agency and Capitol Conservation District are collaborating on the Soil Tunnel Trailer project, an initiative which aims to teach both children and adults of soil, water and agriculture through a mobile classroom. The project has been implemented elsewhere in the country, and West Virginia has been putting their own together thanks to grant funding. The trailer can be announced at the West Virginia State Fair, which can be running August 12-21, and it can contain a few fun 3D printed creatures, thanks to the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing (RCBI).

Whilst many individuals ponder of soil as an inanimate substance, it’s not, and Aimee Figgatt, district manager of the Capitol Conservation District, wanted to come up with a memorable and fun way to teach visitors to the trailer of the variety and importance of the life teeming in the soil at a lower place our feet. Along with her husband, an engineer, Figgatt is a mentor to a local robotics team, so she’s acquainted with how innovation can hold the interest of young individuals.

“Soil is not just dirt on the ground. It is in fact alive, and which quite surprises individuals,” said Figgatt, who has been working in the Soil Tunnel Trailer project since 2012. “I wanted to include innovation, in this case, 3D printing, for the reason which is where education is going and which is what kids like.”

Organism 2 (3)

3D printed microorganisms, created and printed at RCBI

She contacted RCBI, a specialized technical training center whose 3D printing resources have led to partnerships with other educational and artistic institutions in the past. Figgatt had a few microorganisms in mind, and with assist of RCBI staff participants, she created several 3D models which were and so printed on the institution’s different types of 3D printing equipment. The final products were scaled-up (in a few cases up to 3,000 times) 3D printed microorganisms which can leer at visitors of behind glass.

It turns out which microorganisms, when scaled up thousands of times, appear a lot like scary monsters, which kids love, so Figgatt believes which the display can get young observers to donate serious yett to the soil they walk on each day. The 3D printed creatures include the weirdly talked about tardigrade, or water bear, which may be the just microorganism to have a fewthing like a cult next, plus protozoa, pseudomonas, radiolaria, giardia protozoa, nematodes and riboa fews.


There goes the Soil Tunnel Trailer – of 90% consume. [Image: Capitol Conservation District]

“We’re excited to participate in the State Fair by contributing customized, 3D Printed organisms,” said Charlotte Weber, RCBI Director & CEO. “Whilst the fair’s audience may assume to see common livestock, our larger-than-life soil creatures should encourage children and adults to take a nearer appear at microorganisms.”

The glass portals which enclose the microorganisms can donate visitors the impression of appearing through microscopes. As an environmental issue, soil conservation is not the many glamorous, especially compared to the plight of polar bears or rainforests; many individuals don’t actually realize which it is an issue. Initiatives like the Soil Tunnel Trailer are significant in teaching kids of the ecosystem which lives in our dirt and how significant it is to our larger ecosystem.

I can’t ponder of a advantageous way to get through to children than this, quite. Kids may not be overly concerned of erosion or mineral depletion, but protecting the tardigrade? That’s significant. After the State Fair, the Soil Tunnel Trailer can be traveling to other sites and actuallyts around West Virginia; for additional information, contact Figgatt at 304-759-0736. Discuss additional in the 3D Printed Microorganisms forum over at 3DPB.com.


This tardigrade in a glass portal donates the impression of being seen through a microscope.