Tag Archives: academic library makerspace

Virtual Reality in Education: Anthropology

Students experiencing the VR video.

To gain a better understanding of life in a refugee camp, Professor Lavanya Proctor brought her Anthropology of South Asia students to the makerspace to experience a virtual reality video. The video entitled, I Am Rohingyafollows a woman named Jamalida as she walks through the refugee camp in which her family lives. The following is the description on Vimeo:

In this immersive VR film by Contrast VR and AJ+, ride with Jamalida around the crowded camp, accompany her inside her tiny home, sit down in the narrow streets with her sons as they play and feel what’s it like to be a refugee stranded in a foreign land.

Prior to coming to the makerspace, students were instructed to download the Vimeo app on their smartphones. Additional smartphones were provided in case students did not have their own. Cardboard VR headsets provided a low-cost, and low-tech way to allow students to immerse themselves in a new surrounding and feel what daily life is like for people living in refugee camps.

While watching the video, students could use audio headsets to block out other sounds and listen at a comfortable volume. They could move through the space and rotate to explore the camp. The VR experience allowed students to immerse themselves much more than passively watching a video. Immersive VR videos like I Am Rohingya give students an opportunity to experience powerful stories, and at between $8-$15, cardboard VR headsets offer a cost-effective way to do this.

Instrumental Analysis with 3D Printers

Gravitational potential well

For the last 3 years, Professor Deanna Donohoue has included 3D printers with her instrumental analysis chemistry course. In addition to 3D printers, students use other innovative tools such as Arduinos. For the 3D printing portion, students receive training and access to the space and are instructed to print a chemistry-related object from the Journal of Chemical Educationthe NIH 3D print exchange, or a general 3D object repository like Thingiverse.

After completing a print, students answer the following questions:

  • How can we use 3D printers with other instruments or instrument development?
  • Draw a black box model of the 3D printer. Include the computer and steps involved on the computer.
  • Find an application of 3D printing that you think is interesting.
  • Find a scientific publication which uses an instrument made with a 3D printer, or has parts from a 3D printer.

The students are encouraged to think of the printers as they would any other laboratory tool or equipment. This approach as a scientific instrument gives the students beneficial insight and understanding when it comes to troubleshooting. Professor Donohoue described these printers as exciting tools to allow for citizen science as well as creating inexpensive custom tools that allow for previously cost-prohibitive field work.

Carbon nanotube

Cuvette stand

Makerspace Updates for Winter Term

Signs with QR code and shortened URL to 3D printer reservation forms and calendars were placed near each printer.

We have a few exciting updates for the makerspace for winter term.

  • Reserving 3D printers: We’ve implemented a much easier method that uses a combination of Google Forms, the add-on Data Director for Forms, and Google Calendar to reserve the 3D printers and display availability. QR codes and shortened URLs placed near each printer are helping students to quickly see what’s available and make reservations.
  • Makerspace Club updates: The student makerspace club has been paired with a child in need of a prosthetic hand through e-Nable and has begun planning the creation of the custom prosthetic.
  • GlowforgeWe’ve placed our order for a Glowforge laser cutter and hope to receive it this summer.
  • Winter term training: Open training sessions are scheduled for Mondays at 2:30 pm and Thursdays at 11 am.
  • New furniture and space reorganization: We’ve moved some stuff around to make student projects in process storage more visible- and we’re trying out stools on wheels for more flexible seating. Let us know what you think!

    Our mini soldering station with the new rolling stool. We may fill the space with these.

    Bookshelf near the makerspace entrance for student projects in process.

Innovation and Prototyping in the Makerspace

Green Plantern created by I&E students Brandon Polanco, Gus Lowry and George Mavrakis

Students from the Innovation and Entrepreneurship course, In Pursuit of Innovation have spent a lot of time in the makerspace this term creating prototypes for some excellent products.

  • We’ve had students combine 3D printing and sewing for a portable shelter,
  • sew a prototype of a more comfortable sports bra,
  • 3D print a prototype compost bin design that makes composting fun for kids
  • design and create belt packs made from new types of durable materials
  • 3D print a prototype aeroponic planter and cut out the logo with the vinyl cutter

The last project listed has even been made into a Kickstarter project! Be sure to check out the Green Plantern by AIRO. The effort and thought put into this project is very impressive. They hope to make indoor gardening more accessible through their compact aeroponics system.Their campaign runs until December 24, 2017.