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Saturday, October 6 • 4:05pm - 4:45pm
3D printing molecular models for chemistry education: challenges and triumphs

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Most simply, chemistry is about the relationship of atoms in 3D space. For the chemistry student, appreciating these 3D arrangements is a critical step in understanding core concepts. Molecular models have been used in chemistry education for decades, and interacting directly with physical 3D models improves student learning outcomes. However, because of their cost and limited components, most chemistry courses are still dependent on 2D images or graphical representations of 3D structures. 3D printing technology offers a unique platform for creating highly-tailored molecular models to provide teachers new methods and activities for enhancing student learning. However, there are challenges inherent to printing molecular structures, chief among them being that complex structures often require many support structures, leading to increased material consumption, and significant post-printing processing. I will describe a software add-on for the Blender 3D modeling package that allows users to interactively split molecules into smaller components to simplify 3D printing. Automated placement of “pins” on bonds and “holes” in atoms allows for the rapid creation of complex ball-and-stick molecular structure models that are easy to print and assemble. Several course activities that make use of this software and 3D printed models, including lessons on molecular symmetry and protein folding, will be highlighted.

avatar for Paul Paukstelis

Paul Paukstelis

Associate Professor of Biochemistry, University of Maryland, College Park
Associate Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Maryland, College Park. For the last several years Prof. Paukstelis has been working to integrate 3D printing technology with chemistry education.

Saturday October 6, 2018 4:05pm - 4:45pm EDT
Conference Room B