This week I was lucky enough to have attended a workshop titled “3D Digitization of Fossils for Educators and Citizen Scientists”, organized by Claudia Grant. This workshop was attended by K12 teachers, researchers, and paleo club members, from all over the US. Justy and I were asked to give two half hour demos on using the Nextengine Surface Scanner, which took place on Monday and Tuesday morning. Overall, everyone was very receptive to our demos and many people had great ideas on how to take surface scanning a step further. I also attended many talks between the two days, all of which were incredibly interesting and insightful. I learned about various 3D programs, 3D printing, and how to incorporate this technology into the classroom. A high school student named Sage, who attends a school in California in which Paleo lessons led by UF researchers have been taught, talked about how he was affected by these lessons and the use of 3D printed models during them. I think this was the most powerful talk of all because it gave the educators and researchers insight as to how to create a lasting effect on young people.
We began the last day of the workshop with a trip to Thomas Farm. There we were able to explore the large spoil piles to search for fossils. I had a fun time trying to identify the bone fragments that the teachers were finding, and in the end most teachers had bags filled to the top with fossils to bring back to their schools. We even got to walk on a trail around the farm and check out some cool spiders and gopher tortoise burrows. After this we drove to Ginnie Springs and spent the rest of the day swimming in the springs, which was so much fun! Lastly, the workshop wrapped up with a trip to the movies to see Jurassic World. What better way to end a paleo-themed workshop than with dinosaurs!
Overall the workshop seemed to be a huge success. I am so grateful to Claudia for giving me the opportunity to participate. I have learned so much and have met so many amazing educators/scientists who I am truly inspired by.