Students from Rotorua Boys' High School visited Scion's laboratories to 3D print models of kūmara from their own designs.

Their work began in April when students visited Te Puea Orchard, getting their hands dirty harvesting and learning about kūmara.

The harvested kūmara were then used as examples when Scion scientists taught students how to create models for 3D printing.

The students created their own virtual kūmara for printing designs, using freely available 3D modelling software called Blender.

The idea to 3D print kūmara models came from a collaboration between Kai Rotorua, Scion and Rotorua Boys' High.

Kai Rotorua has been running a programme with Rotorua Boys' High School since 2016.

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Using the 3D printing software. Photo / Supplied
Using the 3D printing software. Photo / Supplied

Their aim is to connect learning about kūmara history and mātauranga with hands-on learning about growing and harvesting. This is the first year that Scion has joined their team, weaving in a different science and technology angle to the project.

Dr Roya Rezanavaz was leading the project team for Scion. Her experience in 3D modelling and printing of complex geometries with different types of 3D printers brought her to the project.

"We want to provide students with a practical opportunity to engage in science and technology using their own cultural heritage."

3D printing kūmara models. Photo / Supplied
3D printing kūmara models. Photo / Supplied

Kai Rotorua will display the printed models in its planned community food hub and kūmara museum, depicting the different varieties of kūmara brought to New Zealand from Hawaiki.

This project received support from the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment's Unlocking Curious Minds He hihiri i te mahara.