3D Scanning Museum Specimens with Teens at Carnegie Museums

When Caroline Record, Creative Technologist at the Innovation Studio of the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, PA, needed to make holograms for an upcoming interactive installation she immediately ordered a new iSense scanner. When she got it in the mail a few days later she set about gathering specimen from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History collection and searching for the perfect lighting conditions.

Walking through the Teen section of a neighboring library, she realized that the lighting conditions were perfect for scanning and tried it out. Naturally, this caught the immediate attention of a group of teens in the library space and within minutes they were trying out the scanner themselves.

The teen librarian and Caroline decided to turn the chance encounter with the group of kids into a collaborative workshops hosted by Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, and the Innovation Studio.

About 3 weeks later, an array of mounted birds was set out, along with 2 scanners. After some short introductions, each teen got a turn picking out their favorite bird and slowly circling around it with the device to make a 3D scan. Many of them had heard of 3D printing but had never heard of 3D scanning before. The teens later admitted that in the beginning, they thought this might be boring, but 3D scanning ended up being “actually really cool.”

The scans were minimally edited, saved and posted to SketchFAB– an online 3D hosting site that enables you to embed 3D data in your own website. A couple of models are shown below.

Said Caroline, “3D scanning specimen unlocks a new world of what we can do with the specimen in the collection. It has the potential for education, research, and exhibits. Since the iSense is affordable and easy to use we’ve been able to explore and get the museum excited about some of those possibilities.”


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