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Competition Challenges Students to Document History in 3D 

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Kelly Fletcher

Much has been written about Vermont's rich collection of historic buildings, but often that information is hard to find — or doesn't exist — online. A new contest aims to change that. The 3D Vermont: Town History in 3D Competition seeks to populate Google Earth with historic data collected by Vermont high school students.

The competition challenges teams of students to create 3D models of their towns' notable buildings using the free software SketchUp. In the process, they'll research and document the stories of these local landmarks, which they'll present in a multimedia showcase at the contest's culminating event next March. Organizers are calling it "the high school Olympiad of architectural history in Vermont." There, the student-made models will be 3D-printed and affixed to a giant map of the state. Participants' creations will be judged on architectural and historical accuracy; the winning teams will get Nexus tablets for their school.

The competition is organized by a coalition of partners including the State of Vermont, the Preservation Trust of Vermont, Google and Hartford High School, where teacher Mike Hathorn has been using SketchUp and 3D printing to teach his history class. Hathorn's students have already mapped a number of historic buildings in White River Junction.

"3D printing has been a critical tool in the classroom," said Hathorn in a press release. "It's a hands-on method for teaching history to a technologically minded generation. It's mentally and technically challenging, and above all, it's fun."

3D Vermont: Town History in 3d Competition: Teams must register by November 14. Learn more and register at


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