A 3D puzzel from the Oxford University Museum of Natural History

The Oxford University Museum of Natural History

Janet Stott , 15.08.2013
The Oxford University Museum of Natural History is popular with families and primary schools. Many of our youngest visitors have a huge enthusiasm for dinosaurs, and some have an extraordinary knowledge of species names and details.

However, confusion commonly arises when children are taken to see the dinosaurs and are surprised to be presented with huge fossilised skeletons, rather than the fleshed out bodies that they are expecting from films and books.

As part of our family and early-years provision we were keen to find a demonstration to explain the relationship between the dinosaurs we see in reconstructions, and the fossils that are presented in the museum.

We worked with model makers Crawley Creatures to devise a bespoke 13-piece 3D puzzle in which bones are built up to form a skeleton and then a body covering is added to make a familiar reconstruction of a triceratops.

Crawley Creatures made a prototype model for the puzzle and then produced a set of 20 puzzles using a 3D printer. The puzzles are hugely popular and are included in our dinosaur explorer backpacks for families as well as school workshops.

The opportunity that Crawley Creatures offered with the use of its modelling and 3D printer allowed us to develop a unique learning resource. 3D printers offer learning staff in museums the exciting opportunity to develop sets of bespoke, high-quality resources tailored to our specific objects that have previously been unaffordable.

Janet Stott is the head of education at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History