Learn something new everyday: / nature

3D Printing the Living

3D printing, with all of its new marvels and creations, has given us amazing wonders to keep our eye upon. Many 3D printers can make almost anything out of some metals or plastics. However, there is a new type of printer that is much more earth-friendly, for it can 3D print the earth itself, or, plants upon the earth.


The project that began the eco-friendly printer was Project PrintGREEN, which has aimed to create on-demand gardens by creating living prints. The “ink” of the machine is where the real magic happens; it is made by a combination of soil, seeds, and water, which can print in the shape of any form or letter. These forms then sprout the desired plants, flowers, or grasses from their shapes. PrintGREEN cleverly uses the slogan “Print, because it is green” as a counter remark to printing on excessive amounts of paper that are often wasted or not recycled properly.


Though this project is not entirely cloning and recreating plants, it is amazing that technology has come so far as to print living organisms. It does make one wonder if the future of 3D printing will have any connection with the technology advancements for cloning as well.

Students of the Faculty of Education Maribor, in the Department of the Fine Arts, worked and created this project. They described one of their projects in detail and the symbolism behind it from its combination of technology, art, and nature. The students shared their view on creating the living design of the “Grass Bowl.” This is a structure that was printed with soil, and turns green with time and the growing of grass. This gives new meaning to the idea of “watching the grass grow”, and pushes us to keep our minds jogging about the combination of technology and nature.


--Jessalyn Kieta

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Take Your Learning Outdoors--Forest Kindergartens

Many parents are beginning to realize that the structured academics of traditional classrooms are not as beneficial to their children’s’ education as other styles of learning. Rather a strong connection with the natural world can enhance and improve our learning in the classroom.

Hence, the invention of Forest schools has given children the opportunity for just that—kids learn in classrooms, but also have a great exposure to exploration and freedom by having recess session in forests and other natural areas. Children play outside, rain or shine, with little supervision. The idea is that the children are allowed to connect with the natural world because their brains will automatically use their literary and math skills in the way that they interact with the real world as well. The teachers are allowed to bring their students to meadows, creeks, mountains, forests, and shorelines.


This may sound like a new concept for American schools, and it is. But it has been around for years in other countries such as Germany, Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom, and South Korea. Teaching and lessons are done by personal experience with the environment; for example, teacher Nihal Öz of the Waldkindergarten in Germany tells a story of a little boy who wanted to know what would happen if he stood in the fire. He ran up to the teacher and said “Look, my feet did not burn!” From this, the teachers use this moment as a lesson by gathering all the kids around the fire, and teaching them about how fire works. Thorston Reinecke, another teacher, commented on the lesser amount of supervision that the children receive, but how it is beneficial to them: “maybe I don’t have that much control and I can’t always see them, but I know where they are. Not being there all the time allows them to assess risks better.”

When the world is your classroom, there is no end to the amount of learning that you can have just from personal experience and from picking up on the way that the world around you works. A stronger sense of the world can make a child more confident in itself and prepare them to use that confidence in the classroom later on.

Now, Waldkindergartens, or Forest schools, are popping up all over the United States. The first Forest School opened up in Portland, Oregon in 2007. There are several new Forest schools sprouting up in California as well, and there are enough schools involved that they are able to have formal meetings of all the supervisors of the Forest schools.

There is a growing amount of technology in our lives, but there will always be a vast amount of nature and earth to explore as well. Respecting both spheres of the world we live in are the first beginning steps to knowing more and learning more about our world, and creating stronger students in the classroom.


--Jessalyn Kieta

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Temporary Bridge, Temporary Art

This artist certainly knew how to build a bridge and get over it! Artist Steve Messam, an environmental artist, built a bridge made out of 22,000 pieces of paper. It doesn’t contain a single screw, bolt, or piece of glue, but it can completely withstand the weight of people walking across it.

The bridge is located in the north of England over a creek. The bright red paper stands out in the surrounding lush green environment, but Messam likes to think of the bridge as something that is still natural in the environment because paper is only made of wood pulp and water after all. The art bridge is meant to be temporary, so once it starts to fall, the paper will be taken away and properly recycled.


The bridge stands due to compression from the paper. Messam placed down stacks of 1,000 pieces of paper at a time as the compression built up, finally hammering the last piece into place. Though nature has taken its tolls on the bridge, it hasn’t fallen, even when the paper gets wet; rather, the bridge becomes stronger when the paper fibers are wet because the fibers want to swell, and it has no room to do so. In the weeks that it has been open, it has only sunk 30 millimeters.

Messam has done a great job of creating art pieces that are installations into the environment; they do not disturb the flow of nature around them, but rather work in tandem with it. Messam commented about his thoughts of outdoor environmental art: “the work is as much about its surroundings as the object itself. Its more of a total experience than seeing a sculpture in a gallery.”


--Jessalyn Kieta

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