The Rio Verde Archaeology 3D Artifact Dig was a huge success at the Pueblo County Fair. The activity was aimed to engage children 5 years and younger; however children of all ages ended up digging for artifacts in the simulated excavation. The aim of the science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM) project was to expose children to 3D printing technology and archaeology through play. The exhibit featured several 3D printed artifacts created from photogrammetry assets, which were printed as 3D objects. The objects were then placed in a sand box where the children could dig for them and then compare found objects to printed images of the actual artifacts. The exhibit also featured a 3D printer printing objects live and scanner, where youth could scan and view a 3D model of themselves.
The artifacts were originally photographed by Colorado State University Extension Agent, Jane Crayton during her previous documentary work at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She exposed High Dynamic Range (HDR) photogrammetry of several artifacts during her last visit to the archaeology site in Oaxaca, Mexico in 2013. Photogrammetry is the science of making measurements from photographs. Using Autodesk software, Jane turned the photogrammetry images into 3D objects, where she eventually was able to make a printed replica of the object.
Connecting youth to real world science projects plays an important role in developing interest in STEM careers. When children interact with simulated or real science projects they learn how the scientific method can be applied to solve problems in everyday life. When art is used as a vehicle to engage STEM using inquiry and project-based methods, the students become active and engaged learners. The Rio Verde Archaeology 3D Artifact Dig activity is an authentic science experience aimed at introducing STEM concepts and careers to the next generation of students.