Saving Money With 3-D Printing-Michigan Tech University Research

Does your school have a 3-d printer? If not, why not?

Not only does the 3-d printer have many great educational uses, new research from Michigan Tech University professor Joshua Pearce reveals they can save money too.

According to the research,most households, by making simple household products once per week can make their money back within 6 months and have a 1,000% return on their investment within 5 years.

But aren’t they hard to use and require lots of training and set-up costs?

Not so much. One of the best aspects of the research was that the products were all created by a novice. The subject, engineering student Emily Petersen had never used a personal 3-d printer before. Within a mere sixty minutes of activating the printer, she was off and running, well printing.

She ultimately printed 26 household objects to exemplify how using the printer could have tremendous utility for any personal household, being able to print anything from shower heads, drinking cups, cabinet pulls, to toys for the kids. I definitely want to check one out to see if it as easy to use as they say, because to be honest, technology and I do not always see eye to eye! (Thank goodness I have wonderful teenageers at home to help me!)

What amazing creations would your students come up with? As you know, one of the primary mindsets we are encouraging with our blog, Wide Open Research, is to encourage students to be actively engaged learners-learning both the academic foundation, but also creating, making, doing, experimenting. In short, making the learning come alive. This article provides great “data” for a teacher to advocate to their principal or administrative folks to seek ways to get a 3-D printer and other technology available for their students. 

Definitely check out MTU writer Stefanie Sidortsova’s piece  on professor Pearce’s research as it features a brief video of the 3-D printer in action. I definitely want the little green octopus!

Questions for Discussion

  1. What would you make?
  2. How does it work?
  3. What are the potential societal implications of this? What happens if the new knob you printed ruins your washing machine- is the warranty void? Who is liable if a product you print hurts someone?
  4. How could this impact the economy?
  5. What are some more benefits besides, the economic ones?
  6. What will be the next step, after 3-d printing?

What else does this inspire you to “learn, dream, do?”

To read more from Wide Open Research about 3-d Printing, please click here.

Inspired Research at the University of Cincinnati

It is easy to be frustrated by the world of education these days, when every decision both internally and externally becomes a conflict-when protecting egos and turf are prime motivators, when hyper-competitiveness seems to crush the joy of learning on many days. Sigh…. 

So, I am always grateful to come across an a story  that inspires me and reaffirms my hope in our students, for our future. 

If you are looking for such an article, please check out Jac Kern’s excellent piece in the University of Cincinnati magazine, about a student led engineering society, EnableUC, who decided to put their love of engineering to good use- to help make low-cost prosthetic devices for pediatric patients.

It focuses on the president of the campus group, an exceptional person, Jacob Knorr, who is focused not only on serving  the needs of those who might benefit from their prosthetic technology, but  he is eager to share his love of engineering with high school students, especially those that might not have access to engineering mentors.

Knorr is quoted in the article,” We’re working on high school outreach to get that next generation of students interested so they can go to school for engineering.”

It is my sincere hope that Knorr and EnableUC succeed in their mission of inspiring students not to only become engineers, but to use their talents and gifts to serve those who are less fortunate.

If all of us adult educators would keep focused on that same mission, what a beautiful world we could create. Thanks for the great article and keep up the great work, EnableUC!

The article has a link to their upcoming plans and projects for a low-cost battery powered prosthetic hand that the group is working on. Please share with your friends! 

Leave a comment below and let us know who in the world of research is inspiring you these days!

Questions for Discussion

  1. How has 3-D printing revolutionized prosthetic development?
  2. What parts of the world might benefit most from this low-cost technology?
  3. What is the dual mission of EnableUC?
  4. What new technology is EnableUC trying to develop?
  5. What other ideas could your students do to use 3-d printing to help those in need?
  6. What are 5 things in your classroom that were developed by engineers or designers?

What else does this inspire you to “learn,dream,do?”

Another Wide Open Research post about outreach with 3-d Printers.

Lowntheil Collection of African-American Photographs at Cornell University

Educators wishing to enrich their senior high school social studies or  college curriculum or to help commemorate African American History Month should check out the Lowentheil Collection of African-American Photographs, available through Cornell University.

This rich collection of historical photographs from the time of slavery to the modern era is an incredible research and educational opportunity. These digitized photos are a compelling look at “how black people in American saw themselves and were seen by others,” according to Cheryl Finley, associate professor of art.

It took several years of painstaking work to digitize and organize these photographs to be made available to the wider public.

There are so many ways an educator could use these photographs from the Lowentheil Collection of African-American photographs. For sure, to glimpse the attire, hair styles and posing of the time period. But also, to understand the essential humanity captured in the photos.

For sure, an American History teacher could find these valuable artifacts to deepen the understanding of the time period. Students can scan the gallery and answer questions about what is observed. They can begin getting an understanding of how a historian would use primary source material for research. Additionally, you can help them develop an appreciation of the great role that media specialists and archivists play in recording the history of our culture.

I can also imagine using these photographs in a creative writing context. The clothes, the facial expressions, the poses of these African-American subjects could be used as a “prompt” for a creative writing, free write. Simply look at the picture and imagine the story of the person in the photo. Imagine what was happening in their lives during the time of the photographs. What was important to them? What were they thinking and feeling and dreaming?

What genre would best fit the image titled, “Portrait of a Man?” A poem, an essay, a short story? For some reason, I see him possibly giving a speech, what about you?

I believe our colleagues in the Fine Arts classes would find much to commend about the photographers effort in “Men and children dancing” from 1886. What do you think of the staging and the intensity in which the boy in the foreground stares at the camera? How has the camera and film technology changed since the era of these older photographs? Stylistically rich and visually appealing, these photographs would enliven any photography classroom discussion. 

Any educator with a passion for celebrating the difficult work of curatorial research and of experiencing a profound glimpse into the power of the humanities to close the gap of time, would find spending time with this digital collection gratifying.

Questions for Discussion

  1. How can this digital collection help us better understand this time period?
  2. How has the photographic technology changed?
  3. What is the importance of primary source material in historical research?
  4. What can we learn about the subjects in this collection- are there generalizable characteristics or is it best to understand the subjects individually?
  5. Why do you think Cornell believed it was important to share this resource?
  6. How else could you use this collection in your own class or professional development setting?

For a link to an article in the Cornell Chronicle by Melanie Lefkowitz, please click here.

For a link to the Lowentheil Collection of African American Photographs, please click here. 

Your Brain on Protein-Research from Bowling Green State University

Dr. Huber at Bowling Green State University has published research showing the impact of protein on the experience of the “food coma”- the state of lethargy one often has after a meal.

In this article by Bonnie Blankinship, Dr. Huber explains his research in fruit flies that helped to identify this and a possible explanation as to why this might be- perhaps sleep helps to process the ingested protein. Perhaps too, as protein is an “expensive” protein, that it is it requires a greater expenditure of energy to obtain, then  perhaps the fly is simply depleted.

Interestingly, time of day is also correlated to the fruit fly experiencing lethargy.

I love how this article talks about the details of how Dr. Huber conducted this research. He uses computer sensors and video tracking to record the details of the fly’s movement and activity level to note when it eats and sleeps.

“In one second we can get a thousand data points,” according to the article.

Wouldn’t your students benefit from such a lab?

I really also look forward to Dr. Huber’s future collaboration on creating a “fruit fly soundscape” with composer Reiko Yamada. I think it really shows the power of an inquisitive mind and the importance of collaboration.

Sharing this article with any student to help highlight not only this fascinating research but also to demonstrate some of the essential elements of research literacy- curiosity, interdisciplinary collaboration, and critical thinking.

Questions for Discussion

  1. What is a “food coma?”
  2. Why does Dr. Huber study the fruit fly?
  3. What is a drosophila?
  4. Describe how Dr. Huber conducted this research?
  5. What sparked his interest in this subject?
  6. What does he say about behavior?
  7. What other implications are there for this research?
  8. What important traits of research literacy does this article highlight?
  9. How else could you use this article to inspire your students?

 

Fuel Efficiency Index-University of Chicago Research

For a great look at using economics attempting to solve environmental problems, read Vicki Ekstrom High’s article on  University of Chicago professor Ryan Kellogg’s research.

Kellogg has developed an approach to using a “market” approach to developing fuel efficiency standards, based on the cost of gasoline. So, when the cost of gasoline is higher, the fuel efficiency standards would go higher with the assumption that consumers would purchase more fuel efficient vehicles.

If the gas prices are lower, the fuel efficiency standards will go down as consumers are likely to purchase larger “gas-guzzlers.” The assumption then is that it would not put undue burden on auto makers to develop cars that might very high standards.

Based on Kellogg’s research the market will develop an optimal response to this that maximizes fuel efficiency in times of high gas prices while not straining the auto makers in times of low gas prices to achieve high emissions standards that are mismatched to consumer preference.

Kellogg suggests that this “Fuel Efficiency Index” approach (my nomenclature) provides a better response than the current system which is based on wheel base size and does not require congressional legislation.

According to Kellogg”…. it provides the maximum benefit to consumers and the general public by reducing greenhouse gas pollution at the lowest possible cost.”

Teachers of  Economics, Ecology, Automotive Engineering would find this research worth sharing with their students.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Why does Kellogg’s research provide a better solution than the current system?
  2. What assumptions are imbedded in Kellogg’s research?
  3. What data do you think professor Kellogg used to develop his new solution?
  4. What are the fluctuations in gasoline prices noted in the graph in this article?
  5. Over what period of time would this Fuel Efficiency Index need to cover to be practical for automakers and consumers?
  6. How would this solution be implemented?
  7. If you were a policy maker, what other data would you want to analyze before agreeing with professor Kellogg’s Fuel Efficiency Index?

We are Montana in the Classroom-University of Montana Outreach

Congratulations to the University of Montana for sharing their faculty with K-12 students. through the We are Montana in the Classroom program in which  faculty connect with K-12 teachers and students, through distance learning.

Recent events included discussion on Native American Studies:Human Rights by Dr. Shanley and Iva Coff, What is it Like to be  a Chemist? by Dr. Thomas, Moses Leavens, and Ranaldo Tsosie.

What I love about these interactions is that they include faculty and graduate student not only sharing their research, but sharing their story on how they chose to pursue higher education.

For so many of our students higher education seems out of reach or simply an abstract concept as they may not have people in their social networks with extensive higher education or backgrounds in higher education. Simply having the opportunity to interact with the faculty and graduate students about the fascinating research they may be engaged in, but also just about what higher education is all really like can help dispel the many misconceptions that a student may have.

I love these resources that they shared as well. Please check them out and share them with your fellow educators!

Your Brain On Learning-University of Alabama Research

What if everything we “know” as educators is wrong?

Thanks to advances in neuroscience, we are likely to be exposed to revolutionary new ideas about how the brain actually learns that will fundamentally alter the way we do our jobs each day.

Sigh.

And I was just getting used to the new curriculum….

The good news is in University of Alabama writer David Miller’s article on neuroscience research on learning. According to researchers at the University of Alabama is that it will probably take ten years for the research to make its way to the classroom level, according to assistant professor, Dr. Firat Soylu- so don’t delete those slide shows just yet!

The even better news, is that much of this research will hopefully take the guess work out of how we think students learn and make differentiated instruction seem quaint, as we hopefully will be able to truly individualize instruction, so each student can learn the way they learn best.

In an ideal world, this will allow computers to handle the basic knowledge acquisition of memorization, solving basic formulas, understanding vocabulary and allow teachers to focus on developing research literacy through critical thinking, project based learning, labs, and other more cognitively complex classroom activities.

Now is a great time to introduce your students to the basics of neuroscience and the fMRI gear that are the tools of the trade.

Who knows, maybe your principal will get you that EEG machine after all?

For additional information on Dr. Soylu’s work, which includes an insightful review of educational neuroscience research and discusses several lesson designs which can likely enhance student learning, please see the article The Thinking Hand:Embodiment of Tool Use, Social Cognition, and Metaphorical Thinking and Implications for Learning Design.  The learning design method of perspective taking as exemplified in the section “Being the Sensor” as great utility for a wide variety of classroom settings.

Questions for Discussion

  1. What does fMRI stand for?
  2. How does it work?
  3. How is it different than a traditional MRI?
  4. How much does it cost?
  5. What is tDCS?
  6. Are you a skeptic- does this seem like just another research “fad?” What evidence do you base your skepticism on?
  7. What teaching practices are you doing now, that are likely a bit behind the times?
  8. What do you want to know about neuroscience to help you be a better educator?
  9. How can you use this information to inspire your students?