Molecules of Life - 3D Printing Program

This article originally appeared on the Brandeis LTS blog.

Three years ago, Vivekanand Pandey Vimal- a former Waltham High School teacher- created a summer outreach program focused in providing Waltham High School students with experience in STEM research lab environments. This summer, with the support of the LTS MakerLab and staff from the Academic and User Support Services (ASUS) unit, Vimal, along with Professor Daniel Krummel, Anique Olivier-Mason and Eduardo Beltrame, piloted In 3D: Molecules of Life- a 12 session instructional course-in partnership with Waltham High School. 

Stemming from Vimal’s original model and a collaboration between Beltrame and Professor Krummel to develop- and print- biomolecular models for his undergraduate class, this course consisted of a morning lecture and an afternoon practicum. Using her past experience in developing similar instructional design at MIT, Olivier-Mason coordinated and helped lecturers plan each session to ensure each lesson built upon the next. Lectures were facilitated by Brandeis graduate students with the goal of integrating different tools and class formats for talking about biochemistry and DNA, as well as preparing graduate students to teach  and introduce emerging technologies to students.

3D printing (and the use of the models for visualizing molecular structure and functions) were heavily emphasized throughout this course.  Many afternoon practicums were held in the Brandeis MakerLab, where students learned how to operate a 3D printer and create designs, while gaining an understanding of the workflow for printing any molecule. This effort culminated with SciFest, where students presented a poster about the course and models used, as well as a 1.5m tall DNA model that was assembled from printed pieces.