The 14th UTokyo Techno-Science café Report1November 10, 2013


The 14th Techno-science Cafe was held on November 10. The theme was "The frontier technology, innovating medical research and development". Forty one elementary school and junior high school students gathered.
Firstly, Prof. Yuichi Tei belonging to both the faculty of engineering and faculty of medicine, researching regenerative medicine/tissue engineering, gave a lecture. He explained about tetra gel, which can be used as cartilage, flexible connective tissue in human body, and introduced custom-made artificial bones fabricated by 3D printer using familiar terms. Children quietly listened to the talk, and after the lecture, they enthusiastically asked many questions. Even the university students and experts were impressed by their questions.
Next, children were divided into 6 groups, where they learned about gels and the functions of a three-dimensional (3D) printer through two workshops including a simple experiment and answering quizzes which university students planned.
Recently, 3D printers are gathering attention as is evident from TV programs or feature articles. In general, we mold or scrape when making models. On the other hand, 3D printers can “print” these models by piling up plane surfaces, which enable them to make elaborate and inflated structures in succession.
We tried hard to make children understand these laws, and finally we came up with the idea to show the real 3D printer.
On the event day, everyone there got excited to see the real printer making the original key chain with the logo of “SC” (science café). Showing children elaborate figures and artificial bones made by the printer could made them understand that the printer can make anything.
For the first time in the history of the science café, we used a live coverage system using “Facetime”. It received a good response from parents as they could see their child’s expressions. We learned much from children’s eagerness to learn. We’re looking forward to see more students joining the science cafe and making discoveries.

沼田 恵里