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Bones from extinct New Zealand moa are turning up

Bones from extinct New Zealand moa are turning up in classrooms throughout New Zealand thanks to an innovative 3D printing project.

The moa bone project, created by Auckland based technology company MindKits, has taken the giant New Zealand moa from behind the glass of museums and placed them into the hands of educators and students across New Zealand.

Four moa bones have been digitally scanned by MindKits to produce 3D models from which 3D prints can be formed. These 3D digital models are available free to schools.

MindKits founder Tim Carr hopes the project will provide educators a unique opportunity to span teaching across multiple subjects, and inspire exploration and discovery. “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".

Gerard MacManus, learning design leader of technology at Hobsonville Point Secondary School is embracing the project. The leg bone, which took 102 hours to print, is drawing excitement from students and attracting interest from other faculty members across biology, PE and sciences. “How else would you be able to have a moa bone in your classroom.” Mr MacManus is now preparing to print the skull bone with his students “It’s a great way for students to see 3D printing not just as a rapid prototype, but as as way to bring history back to life. “ said Mr MacManus.

Mr Carr first had the idea to scan moa bones for use in 3D print education in 2014, but plans stalled when museums, who hold most of New Zealand’s moa remains, were reluctant to grant access to their bones.
A chance meeting with Wellington based teacher Tony Cairns revived the project. Mr Cairns who shares Mr Carr’s passion for education, loaned MindKits the bones from the Cairns family private collection.

The original bones included in the MindKits project, were recovered from Wairarapa farmland in the mid 1970’s. The longest bone, a tibiotarsus leg bone, measures 85cm and came from the largest species of giant moa found in the North Island, dinornis novaezealandiae. The skull and jaw bone came from an unknown smaller species.

The project, which kicked off at the beginning of April and runs until June, has so far distributed one hundred and twenty 3D specimen packs.
Participants are encouraged to publish images from their moa bone printing experiences via social media to initiate conversations and shared learning experiences.

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