Science instructor Jon Davis helps create online hominid artifact collection

Image: Fred Hurteau, NCSSM, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

As a student, NCSSM science instructor Jon Davis had a keen interest in evolution and early hominid artifacts, but never had access to high-quality specimens in his hometown high school. As a faculty member at NCSSM, he decided to do something about it by organizing a project in which NCSSM’s collection of early hominid skulls and bones were photographed and shared online. Davis explains that with the Internet, “these objects can be provided inexpensively and broadly, extending learning to schools that have lower budgets for models.”

Not only does NCSSM provide high-quality photographs, but many of the skulls can also be rotated 360-degrees, so students can examine them from a variety of angles.  This helps students better understand how multiple features have changed throughout history.

In traditional face-to-face classes, Davis has students arrange hominid skulls into family trees. The digital collection allows online students to experience a similar assignment in which they rotate skulls virtually and take screenshots, which they then arrange into a family tree using drawing software.

Davis anticipates that virtual learning objects will become even more important in online learning, as VR becomes more mainstream. Davis says “there are many things that we can portray with 3D or VR models that could not be portrayed with the physical world.

The Flickr gallery of hominid skulls has drawn interest from book publishers, educational magazines and websites, who often request to use the images in educational publications. 

View Hominid Artifacts Flickr Gallery

The gallery includes over 600 high-resolution images of hominid skulls, bones and artifacts. All images are published creative commons, and are free for educators to use noncommercially. 

View 360-degree Images

More than 100 images can be rotated 360 degrees for better evaluation. Images include hominid artifacts, skulls and bones used in forensic science courses, and animal skeletons used in biology courses.

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