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VCU Archaeology

Intersection Between Science and History

Guest blog contributed by Kim McQuillen, M.F.A., US History I and Forensics teacher at
Stonewall Jackson Middle School (SJMS)

Students at Stonewall Jackson Middle School in Hanover County are harnessing 3-D technology to print reproductions of artifacts during history class. Their teacher, Kim McQuillen, was inspired to create a lesson around this trend after meeting Dr. Bernard Means from VCU’s Virtual Curation Lab at a social studies conference last year. “He handed me a bag with a tiny plastic reproduction of an arrowhead found in the remains of one of the Jamestown settlers, and I was hooked. I thought, ‘Hey – we have a 3-D printer at our school, I wonder if I could do this with students.’ I asked our librarians if they wanted to collaborate on this. They actually downloaded the files that we 6th-grade teachers wanted the students to select from, and they wheeled the printer to my classroom and kicked-off the printing with the students after I presented a lesson about what archaeologists are doing with this technology.” McQuillen feels that the 3-D printing of artifacts is a good example of the intersection between science and history. She is hopeful that by exposing students to it, some may consider learning this technology as a career path. Clearly, the “copy-cats” at SJMS are experiencing the past in a new way this year, and McQuillen hopes to expand the use of 3-D-printed artifacts to cover more of the curriculum in the near future.

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6th-grade students Rihley Fagan, Aiden Cipriani, and Grayson Hannegan watch as they print a 3-D replica of an artifact during Mrs. McQuillen’s US History I class at Stonewall Jackson Middle School.

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3-D-printed artifacts reproduced by Mrs. McQuillen’s classes from 3-D scans created in the Virtual Curation Lab- all are related to their curriculum this year.



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