Below, Parkland Library Administrative Assistant Sarah Meilike shares how faculty, staff, and students have been using Parkland’s MakerBot Replicator 2, with its 3D modeling and printing technology, for practical applications on campus. Sarah also demonstrates the new system in an upcoming video to be shown during the Pygmalion Tech Fest. **Parkland is a presenting partner of the Pygmalion Festival, September 23-27, which includes a Tech Festival on Friday, Sept., 25 at Krannert Center in Urbana. The Tech Festival is FREE for all Parkland students with a valid ID.**
What the MakerBot Replicator 2 Is and What It Does
We purchased our 3D printer, a MakerBot Replicator 2, in December 2013. Since then, we have been working with faculty and staff to promote it and engage students. In particular, Assistant Professor Derek Dallas, who teaches compter graphics, has been a wonderful resource for this goal. He incorporated the 3D printer into his 3D Animation class curriculum during the fall 2014 semester. This project brought his students into the library and exposed them to the technology; many of them have returned for personal projects.
We have provided demonstrations of the 3D printer to classes that request them. Kari Couch and Dave Wilson of Computer Science and Information Technology have both brought several classes in each semester to see the printer in action, learn about the software associated with it, and discuss its impact on the evolution of technology.
What We Can Do with The Technology
One of the most practical applications we’ve seen is Derek Dallas working with Natural Sciences Department Chair Scott Siechen to create an anesthetization box for flies. Anesthetizing flies is something Scott’s classes do regularly, but the cost of the boxes are fairly high. Derek was able to design a working box at a much lower cost.
Below, Earth Science Professor Julie Angel shares how Parkland’s new Augmented Reality Sandbox (ARS) helps students “see the lay of the land” to improve map-reading skills. Julie also demonstrates the new system in an upcoming video to be shown during the Pygmalion Tech Fest. **Parkland is a presenting partner of the Pygmalion Festival, September 23-27, which includes a Tech Festival on Friday, Sept., 25 at Krannert Center in Urbana. The Tech Festival is FREE for all Parkland students with a valid ID.**
I am thankful to teach at an institution that values the use of innovative technology and the role it plays in student success! Collaboration between the Parkland College Department of Natural Sciences, Campus Technologies, and our Physical Plant during summer 2015 resulted in the construction and implementation of an “Augmented Reality Sandbox” (ARS).
Why the ARS Was Created and What It Does
This recently developed, hands-on, real-time modeling system was designed and created by scientists at UC Davis’ W.M. Keck Center for Active Visualization in the Earth Sciences (KeckCAVES) in cooperation with UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center, and the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, Burlington, Vermont. The sandbox system was developed as part of an NSF-funded project to teach earth science concepts through 3D visualization applications. These institutions have graciously shared instructions for building the sandbox as well as the powerful software that produces a variety of graphic effects and simulations.
Earth Science will be using this technology to continue our practice of hands-on learning. We find that students understand difficult and sometimes abstract earth processes when they have the opportunity to use their visual and tactile senses to explore those processes.
Earth Science students work with the ARS during their topographic map lab, where learning outcomes focus on reading and interpreting topographic maps. These maps contain natural and man-made features such as rivers, roads, and towns, along with a second dimension: topographic contour lines. Contour lines show areas of equal elevation across the map and the rise and fall of the land surface, the “lay of the land.” Map reading is slowly becoming a lost skill, so many students have had little to no experience with maps, especially those that feature contour lines.
How Students Learn from the New Technology
The sandbox, and its ability to produce 3D topographic models, allows students and instructors to create their own landscapes and to see the overlay of contour lines on their custom land surface. Students engage critical thinking skills when creating their personalized landscapes, with the freedom to create mountains, valleys, streams, volcanoes, and other earth landforms. The opportunity to read and interpret the contour lines projected onto the 3D sandbox topography develops knowledge and skills that are transferred to more effectively reading and interpretating contour lines on a traditional 2D map.
Earth Science also focuses on the interaction between humans, the solid earth, and its atmosphere. In geology, we study surface streams and the potential for flooding in low-lying areas. Would you believe we are able to produce virtual rain with the ARS? The students can wave their hands above the surface (or use a “Storm on a Stick”) and produce rain over a specific region of the sand topography. This allows us to create models that include natural and man-made features (levees, homes, roads, etc.) to predict where flooding will occur and the effect it will have on human and natural landscapes.
Mass wasting is a process by which earth materials move downslope under the influence of gravity. Think landslides, slow creep of material down a hillside, falling rock, etc. As you can imagine, mass wasting occurs in most every landscape on earth, but can be catastrophic in areas where the terrain is steep. Here in Illinois, we don’t think much about the danger of landslides, but it’s on the minds of the people of southern California on a day-to-day basis! We can create models with the ARS to promote critical thinking by visualizing and predicting areas that are at highest risk for mass wasting.
The possibilities are endless for promoting student success by creating meaningful, realistic exercises that capitalize on the powerful modeling capabilities of the ARS!
Below, Biology Professor Lori Garrett shares how Parkland’s new Anatomage table, with its high-tech virtual dissection technology, is helping students learn. Plus, check out an exerpt from her upcoming video to be shown during the Pygmalion Tech Fest. **Parkland is a presenting partner of the Pygmalion Festival, September 23-27, which includes a Tech Festival on Friday, Sept., 25 at Krannert Center in Urbana. The Tech Festival is FREE for all Parkland students with a valid ID.**
Parkland is amazingly fortunate to have an Anatomage digital dissecton table. These state-of-the-art, high tech tables were developed primarily for the medical field, and there are only about 500 in use worldwide, with only a little over 200 currently in use in the U.S. Those are primarily located in hospitals and medical schools. It’s such a high-tech piece of computerized equipment that I attended a two-day User Group meeting in San Francisco in August for in-depth training, and we’re just starting to really appreciate all we can do with it ourselves.
What the Table Does and What We Can Do With It
The Anatomage is like two giant, touch-screen computer monitors with highly sophisticated software behind them. The image banks were developed at Stanford University and are based off of real human CT scans and anatomical models. It provides us with life-size 3D renderings of three different individuals, and we can dissect through them. We can approach the anatomy from the surface and scroll down through the tissue layers, or isolate individual organs and organ systems. Various icons allow us to cut through, or section, any of the body parts, view X-ray images, isolate organ systems, see soft tissues, and more—and everything’s rendered in three dimensions, rotatable, and zoomable. We can add labels, place pins on structures for examinations, and add our own notes all on screen.
We’re really excited for the promise the software holds for advancing our science and medical instruction. With the Anatomage’s InVivo software program, we can take CT or MRI scans from anyone, anonymize them, and then have them digitized and rendered in 3D. This will let us use real-life case studies in a cross-curricular manner for our students moving into the health professions. We can also use the software to isolate any organs, save the digitized data, and then use 3D printing to develop our own anatomical models.
What Students Think about the Anatomage Table
Our students love the Anatomage table because of its technology. We’re integrating the table in our anatomy classes, where we already use plastic models and human cadavers. The table allows our students to learn anatomy from life-size renderings of real cadavers, which makes their cadaver study much easier. In the cadavers, we can’t isolate whole organ systems or rebuild the body like we can on the Anatomage. Being so tech-savvy, our students embrace it and need little guidance—they are used to touchscreen computers and phones.
We sometimes give tours for high school anatomy classes and let the students try the table after a brief introduction and demonstration. Being digital natives, they take to it with no effort at all.
The Anatomage allows us to bridge the gap between simulators and real people. It lets us visualize organs, vessels, tissues, and more without worrying about torn structures or extra tissues and clutter as we see in the real cadavers. The Anatomage is life-sized like our cadavers, but without the “delightful” aroma of the chemical preservatives, and we know our students really appreciate that!