A preschooler, Austyn, keeps still as the 3-D scanner picks up her superhero pose. | Courtesy of Kari Applegate

A group of preschoolers sat on the ground in the Bonderson Projects Center, coloring happily. They were surrounded by technology — an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, a high-caliber computer for animation and motion rendering, and what the preschoolers were interested in: a 3-D scanner and printer.

The Innovation Sandbox (Building 197, room 205) is a facility at Cal Poly designed to foster learning, creativity and innovation. And that’s just what was going on when Kari Applegate, early childhood master teacher at the Preschool Learning Lab, brought her students in.

The children were scanned by the 3-D scanner created by mechanical engineering student Matt Callaghan, and then got a figurine of themselves printed by the 3-D printer. Many did superhero poses, while others stood stoically after being told many times to keep their heads still.

This project was a collaboration between the Preschool Learning Lab and the Innovation Sandbox, according to Edwin Aquino, a biomedical engineering junior and Innovation Sandbox manager.

“The whole goal is to give students access to technology they wouldn’t otherwise have access to,” Aquino said.

The Innovation Sandbox is open to all majors, and is run by the computer engineering department and the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

All of the preschoolers bounded off the platforms after their scans were complete to see the models on the computer. They were amazed to see how much they “look(ed) like statues.”

Mikayla, one of the preschoolers, was especially excited to see her scan. She was wearing a cape and had her hands on her hips in a power stance.

“I would make a good superhero,” she said.

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