Teacher Tech

Smithsonian 3D printing

I’ve never been tempted to get a 3D printer. It’s neat tech, and the applications are immense, but home use felt impractical. Living with two kids means there’s enough easily forgotten plastic stuff around the house already, thank you very much.

Earlier today, though, I found cause for my first real temptation: the Smithsonian institute has made 3D plans of some of its most popular artifacts available, and these can be plugged into 3D printers and remanufactured at home.

Some of the Smithsonian’s Downloadable 3D models

There’s a really nice range of items too. Some of it is sculptural antiquities, some prehistoric fossils, some historic artifacts. The scaling ranges from lifesize reproductions to models that are significantly scaled down (not that you wanted a full size replica of the Wright Brothers plane, of course).

Even if you don’t own a 3D printer, the models are a blast to manipulate. You can zoom in to see the intricacies of artifacts and rotate them in space, which doesn’t require any outside software. If you’re not into the modeling, they also have explorable 3D renderings of things like the Apollo 11 command module.

If you’re a teacher in history or technology, the resource is worth bookmarking even if you never print a thing. 

This kind of library is only going to grow, of course, so if you’re into this tech keep an eye on it–especially if you’re in a school that has access to a 3D printer.

Alan Ackmann

I am a college level writing teacher and freelance video trainer. I have over ten years and over 150 credit hours of undergraduate level teaching experience in creative writing, technical writing, business writing, composition, and literature. I have taught over 1,000 students from a wide variety of cultural and economic backgrounds. My video training courses on professional writing are available at pluralsight.com; My courses focused on Desire2Learn (D2L) are available at lynda.com and at Linkedin Learning.