NCSU STEM BUILD Team presents at Gender and Equity Research Symposium

Two students stand on either side of a brightly colored poster with many images. Below the poster are two 3D-printed models of viruses.

NCSU STEM BUILD undergraduate research assistants Drew Phillips (left) and Felix Harris (right) presented a poster at the 2nd annual NCSU Gender and Equity Research Symposium on April 2, 2018. The students explained how Tactile Teaching Tools can be used to improve inclusivity in science courses by encouraging visitors to think about what it would be like to read a biology textbook with no pictures and reminding them that this is how students with visual disabilities experience their biology courses. They then explained how the STEM BUILD team is working to develop Tactile Teaching Tools that can be used to effectively teach all learners. In addition to the poster, Drew and Felix brought Tactile Teaching Tool prototypes, including viral models and amino acid models, for poster visitors to interact with.

FEBRUARY 22, 2018

Dr. Ramirez and Dr. Gordy Present at NCSU Teaching and Learning Symposium

Two professors stand on either side of a poster. They are each holding a 3D-printed object.

Dr. Ramirez and Dr. Gordy presented a poster describing their DELTA-funded project aimed at developing Tactile Teaching Tools at the 2018 NCSU Office of Faculty Development Teaching and Learning Symposium. The poster presentation focused on the implementation of 3D-printed lac operon TTTs as part of a guided inquiry learning activity in Dr. Ramirez’s MB 351 (General Microbiology) course and the use of “low-tech” TTTs created using WikkiStix to teach double strand break repair in Dr. Gordy’s GN 421/521 (Molecular Genetics) course.

FEBRUARY 2, 2018

Dr. Ramirez and Dr. Gordy Present at NCSU Education Outreach Network

Dr. Ramirez and Dr. Gordy presented their work to the NCSU Education Outreach Network on Friday, February 2, 2018. Their presentation outlined the benefits of universal design for learning, guided inquiry learning, and tactile teaching tools in the classroom. After providing this theoretical framework, attendees were given the opportunity to interact with TTTs including lac operon models, karyotyping kits, amino acids, and virus models.

NOVEMBER 20, 2017

Dr. Ramirez Presents Models at NC Museum of Natural Sciences

A female and male professor are wearing Wolfpack Red and standing behind a table displaying scientific images and 3D-printed models.Last week, BioSci Teaching Assistant Professors Dr. Melissa Ramirez and Dr. Chris Halweg represented the College of Sciences at the 5th annual STEM Career Showcase for Students with Disabilities at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. The two promoted a project called “Integrating Tactile Teaching Tools to Enhance Inclusivity in Science Learning, ” which is currently funded by a DELTA exploratory grant awarded to Dr. Ramirez and fellow BioSci Teaching Assistant Professor, Dr. Claire Gordy. The 3D prints were created or modified by their undergraduate student researcher, Tessa Lacara, a senior microbiology major.

AUGUST 9, 2017

Dr. Ramirez and Dr. Gordy Receive DELTA Exploratory Grant

Dr. Ramirez and Dr. Gordy were awarded $8000 for their project Integrating Tactile Teaching Tools to Enhance Inclusivity in Science Learning. They will work with a team at DELTA to create a digital repository for sharing of tactile teaching tools and accompanying lesson plans.

DECEMBER 16, 2016

Dr. Ramirez Receives NCSU STEM Initiative Grant

Three images show the 3D printing process. First, a 3D printer is printing a blue antibody molecule. Second, a red influenza virus model is shown. It is covered with spikes that represent viral epitopes. Third, the completed antibody molecule is shown binding to one of the viral epitopes.

Dr. Ramirez was awarded $1500 for her project Creation and Integration of Tactile Teaching Tools to Enhance Inclusivity in Microbiology. General Microbiology (MB 351), like other courses in the biological sciences, is heavily reliant on two-dimensional visual representation of information. Our representations are simplified for clarity and often do not reflect the complexity of biological systems. Regrettably, these traditional approaches ignore the needs of students with visual impairments and those who process visual-spatial information differently. The advent of affordable and accessible 3D printing technology has made it possible for instructors to create tactile models that represent molecules, cells, and entire organisms more accurately than traditional visual representations. The goal of this project is to translate the complex process of gene expression into a set of tactile tools that students can manipulate in order to gain insight into how 3D form impacts biological function. This STEM Initiative Grant will be used to design a 3D lac operon puzzle with integrated electronics to produce auditoryfeedback based on the arrangement of the components to help students understand how multiple molecules come together to turn genes on or off. These funds will also support an undergraduate assistant to participate in the research behind the design, creation, and classroom implementation of the tools.