Sometimes the best way to understand a concept is to see it in action and thanks to this new 3D model by Robert Hemlich, students can watch how erosion from rivers formed the grand canyon. Roberts model consists of two main parts (and some helper objects). The first is a topographic map of the Grand Canyon as we know it today printed in rigid PLA. The second is an insert printed from water soluble PVA in the shape of a river valley. As the water passes through the valley it dissolves the PVA and leaves behind the canyon much in the same way natural erosion created the canyon in nature. Since the PVA section is just an insert, this model can be reset by simply printing a new insert placing it in the model for another round.

Robert has made his files available on Thingiverse for all users and has even included a lesson plan that conforms to Michigan’s Common Core Science Standard. This is a great example of how 3D printers can be used in the classroom and Robert won Pinshape’s Create to Educate Lesson Plan Contest for it, a well deserved accolade.