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Giant 3D Printed Bones Help Students Learn About Extinct Moa Birds

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Mindkits is a “family run and kiwi-owned” tech company whose latest project brings extinct New Zealand moa bones to classrooms via 3D scanning. With models of the bones in hand, teachers and students can prep and print them in full size.

The extinct New Zealand moa was an interesting bird. Flightless and looking a lot like the modern day ostrich, it could grow to 3.6 m (12 ft) in height and weighed about 230 kg (510 lb).

Rather than learning about these creatures from textbooks, MindKits, an Auckland-based tech company, is giving schools the chance to learn about the magnitude of the bird from accurate 3D printed bones.

The moa bone project was created to take bones from behind the glass of museums and make them more accessible for teachers to use. With the help of 3D scanning and printing, the original bones can remain safely on display, with exact 3D printed replicas giving children a tactile learning experience.

Tim Carr, MindKits founder, hopes the project will be used in a range of subjects while also inspiring discovery and exploration in students. He adds: “We’re smashing together technology and ecology in the most hands on way possible – using 3D scanning and 3D printing to recreate the rich natural history of New Zealand“.



Meticulously 3D Scanning an Ancient Bird Bone

Procuring and printing the moa bones was no easy feat. The leg bone alone took MindKits 102 hours to print. However, this wasn’t the most difficult aspect of the project. Carr explains that he had the idea of scanning and printing the moa bones for educational use back in 2014.

But, museums which hold the moa remains were very reluctant to allow access to the bones. Thankfully, the project was revived due to a chance meeting with Wellington based teacher, Tony Cairns, whose family has a private collection of moa bones.

Cairns decided to loan MindKits the bones, which were recovered from Wairarapa farmland in the mid 1970’s. The most impressive bone has to be the longest, which is the tibiotarsus leg bone measuring at 85cm.

The MindKits team then meticulously 3D scanned the ancient bones. So far, 120 3D specimen packs have made it to schools. The project will run from April until June.

To apply to receive a project pack, visit the MindKits website and submit your email address. If you match the criteria, you’ll be sent a Giant New Zealand Moa Discovery Pack which includes class information and a USB stick with everything you need to get started.

Source: Scoop
Header Image by John Megahan via Wikimedia Commons

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