Giant Pollen grains helping kids understand climate change


Pollen grains printed by the MakerLab. Orange represents a water-willow pollen. Yellow was taken from a white spruce. Photo by Kathryn Coulter

Pollen grains printed by the MakerLab. Orange represents a water-willow pollen. Yellow was taken from a white spruce. Photo by Kathryn Coulter

These giant pollen grains were created from the Pollen Power summer day camp, hosted by the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB). Created to help middle-school girls foster their interest in the sciences, Pollen Power campers study plant responses to climate change in the distant past to the coming century. After the 2014 campers learned how to identify, scan, and 3D-image pollen grains with the IGB Core Facilities’ state of the art microscopes, the MakerLab created football-sized models of two individual pollen grains—over 10,000x their actual size.

The models were used to demonstrate the texture and detail up close for children at an after school club. They were also featured in the IGB’s Art of Science 5.0 exhibit opening at Champaign’s Indi Go Gallery earlier this year, where they were seen and touched by over 200 people. There are plans to utilize the pollens for the 2015 camp and the IGB’s annual Genome Day, an educational event held at the Orpheum Children’s Museum.

We are thankful for the IGB’s support of the lab, with several other projects at the Lab, such as replicating the National Medal of Science, and the XY positioning Table .  Read about the several other things we made at the lab, drop by during open hours, or participate in our workshops during this summer of making! If you need some custom printing and designing services, our Guru’s can help with that too.