Monday, November 13, 2017

Real-world designing and making for a good cause

Beauty and the Beak: How science, technology, and a 3D-printed beakrescued a bald eagle by Deborah Lee Rose and Jane Veltkamp is quite the title, isn’t it?

What a fascinating story to bring into the classroom to discuss the impact of STEM/STEAM (science, technology, Engendering, art and math) related issues.

This is the story of Beauty, a bald eagle who sustained a gunshot wound that destroyed the top part of her beak. On the verge of starvation, Beauty was rescued and taken to a wildlife center, her first stop in her rehabilitation. From there she was moved to a raptor center run by Jane Veltkamp, a raptor biologist who wanted to have a prosthetic beak made for Beauty. An engineer, Nate, took up the challenge to create a beak using a 3D printer. The process was very much a trial-and-error technique that required hundreds of hours to refine. A dentist was brought into help set the beak into place. The beak worked for a time until it was realized that her natural beak was growing back very slowly. She permanently lives at the center and is supporting scientific study about eagles.

The back section of the book, contains a substantial amount of information about where Beauty is now, her prosthetic beak, and general information about eagles. Everything from their importance to ecosystems and First Nations peoples, their physiology, and conservation efforts is here for research.

The reference section is of reputable websites from government and environmental sources. There is one from the Museum of Science in Boston that has information about making and testing models of Beauty’s beak. There is a rich resource from The Cornell Lab of Ornithology that will supplement general information about eagles. The raptor center that Jane Veltkamp founded is included as well and has a wealth of resources to support this book as a classroom resource.

I’m recommending this for grades 3 or 4 up to grade 8. It demonstrates innovative thinking and designing, problem solving, biology and wildlife conservation. It’s a perfect real-world example for interdisciplinary work about a very cool topic. 


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