|PaleoTeach is a collaboration involving the Florida Museum of Natural History, and secondary science educators. The goal is to create curricula using high-quality 3D models for a K-12 audience. Fossils, present in required Earth Sciences curriculum, are oftentimes delicate or rare, and not universally suitable for classroom use. Therefore, 3D scanning and printing technology provides a unique opportunity to make these specimens available for K-12 education. In addition, paleontology is an interdisciplinary and engaging area of study that provides distinctive opportunities for STEM integration.
STEM integration is an instructional method that aims to emphasize the connections between science, technology, engineering, and math. This method helps introduce concepts in these subjects in a way that is more meaningful to students and also replicates the way science is practiced. PaleoTeach advances our understanding of the potential efficacy of the recently developed 3D scanning technology in K-12 science learning. This approach to integrate 3D data can improve the relevance of educational practices in our schools and broaden the impact of ongoing digitization efforts of paleontological research collections. Lessons that we have developed are rooted in the idea of STEM integration. For example, research on Carcharocles megalodon provides multiple opportunities for K-12 educators. Lessons have been designed to teach concepts of extinction and evolution (science) through the use of 3D printed teeth (technology). Students replicate scientific processes by measuring the teeth and calculating the size of the animal (math). Ultimately, they reconstruct the entire jaw by applying concepts of engineering. Like the study of C. megalodon, there are other examples from the fossil record (e.g., Titanoboa cerrejonensis and equid evolution) that can increase educators’ content knowledge and guide students through this integrated process. Furthermore, making specific fossils available for 3D reproduction can help educators introduce examples of important topics, such as climate change, extinction and evolution, fostering new learning opportunities in issues of current societal relevance.
Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs. Vol. 47, No. 7, p.612