3D Printing the Universe

by Thomas Madura
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With your help and the help of researchers at NASA, we plan to use 3D printing to teach astronomy and astrophysics to the visually impaired.

  Education, Astronomy

3D Printing the Universe:

Astronomy for the Visually Impaired


About this Project

Imagine never being able to experience the wonders of the Universe. Picture not being able to look at a planet or galaxy through a telescope, or see a beautiful Hubble Space Telescope image. Envision not being able to watch a YouTube video of a NASA supercomputer simulation. More importantly, imagine all of the insights into the mysteries of the Universe that are lost as a result of not having these experiences, and the missed opportunities to further contribute to our quest for knowledge, understanding, and discovery. If you are visually impaired, this can be the unfortunate reality.

We aim, with assistance from scientists and educators at NASA and universities around the world, to develop a program that will use 3D prints to help teach astronomy and astrophysics to visually impaired students. Our goal is to develop a long-term and sustainable solution for bringing visually impaired students the wonders of the Universe, motivating them to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

All materials will be donated and remain with the schools. The educators and outreach specialists at each location will use them with visually impaired and sighted students, the general public, and other educators. All materials will be used for as long as possible in order to create a more sustainable project. We hope to reach a minimum of six or seven schools with this initial project: three in the United States, one or two in Mexico, and one or two in Europe. Development of more activities for use in more schools around the world is also possible if we exceed our initial funding goal (see "Stretch Goals" later below).

We believe that no one should miss out on the marvels of the Universe or be discouraged from pursuing science because of a visual impairment. While it will be challenging, great scientists and educators are not known to back down from a challenge, especially when supported by the public.

Please contribute and help us bring the wonders of the Universe to a new audience!

How Will We Do It?

Our project will be conducted in collaboration with scientists, engineers, professional educators of students with visual impairments, and visually impaired students. We have developed an initial set of 3D printable STereoLithography (STL) files of astronomical objects that will be coupled with lesson plans, at various grade levels, for delivery online and integration into classrooms to supplement the teaching of astronomy and astrophysics to visually impaired students.

Homunculus3DPrint
Image Credit: NASA's GSFC/Ed Campion

The 3D print models will provide qualitative feedback equivalent to that attained by sighted students through images and videos. The 3D models will be donated or printed by the teachers locally using ever more affordable 3D printers. Various materials will be explored to create more durable models that can hold up to the constant handling by visually impaired students. Initial models will be printed locally for testing, with the final products that are disseminated to schools printed by the 3D printing companies WhiteClouds and Shapeways at a significant discount. With the help of blind researchers and education specialists on our team, lesson plans using the 3D models will be adapted from materials developed by NASA (see http://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/home.html).

 

Professional Partnerships

Education specialists and experts working in the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Office of Education will assist us with this project. They will advise us on how to best package and disseminate the 3D models and curricula to local schools for the visually impaired in the United States. Team members at universities in Mexico (National Autonomous University of Mexico, UNAM) and Europe (Johannes Kepler University, Linz, Austria) will help disseminate sets of 3D models and curricula to schools in those regions. Depending on the amount of funding we raise, we may be able to include more schools in other countries on most continents. With the help of the Office of Education and local education specialists in each school, our team will perform studies assessing the effectiveness of the lesson plans and 3D models on improving student understanding of specific astronomy topics. These studies will be published in the peer-reviewed literature and used to improve our 3D models and lesson plans for use by future students.

 

WhiteCloudsAndShapewaysLogo

The 3D printing companies WhiteClouds, Inc. and Shapeways have agreed to support our project by providing professional, durable 3D prints for the schools at a significant discount. Both companies have agreed to help us investigate the use of various 3D printing materials and methods to ensure that our 3D models have the highest quality and last as long as possible.

 

What We've Accomplished (So Far)

Our collaboration of scientists from around the world is at the forefront of applying 3D printing methods and technology to astronomy and astrophysics research. The 3D modeling efforts led by Professor Wolfgang Steffen at UNAM allowed us to create the world’s first 3D printable nebula, based on 3D spectral mapping data obtained with the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile (see e.g. the video below).

EtaCarHomunculusModelGIF EtaCarNebulaModel
Credit: NASA's GSFC 

Led by Dr. Thomas Madura at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, we also produced the first 3D printable results from a supercomputer simulation of an astrophysical system (see video below and https://gsfctechnology.gsfc.nasa.gov/3DPrinting.html).

EtaCarCollidingWindsSimulation CollidingWinds3DPrint
Credit: NASA's GSFC/T. Madura           

Results of our work have also been published in the peer-reviewed astrophysics journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. Steffen et al. (2014) discusses the details of our 3D Eta Carinae Homunculus model, while Madura et al. (2015) presents our 3D prints of output from a NASA supercomputer simulation of Eta Carinae's binary colliding stellar winds.

 

In the News

In the past 16 months, our work has resulted in two NASA press releases (one and two), an article in NASA Cutting Edge (on page 11), a press conference at the 225th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society, and articles from over 80 international news outlets, including Nature News, Science News, BBC News, NBC News, National Geographic News, MIT Technology ReviewSky & Telescope, astrobites.org, space.com, cnet.com, 3Dprint.com, and more!

Press
A sample of the press coverage on our work 3D printing work thus far.

 

We have also started using our 3D prints for outreach in museums and with visually impaired students. An initial set of 3D models was sent to the New Mexico Museum of Space History for education activities with students from the New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

StudentsA local news article on this is available at http://www.alamogordonews.com/alamogordo-news/ci_28498984/museum-adds-models-visually-impaired

 

All of our 3D STL files are also free and publicly available at NASA’s 3D Resources website: http://nasa3d.arc.nasa.gov/
3D printable models currently available include the Eta Carinae Homunculus Nebula: http://nasa3d.arc.nasa.gov/detail/eta-carinae-homunculus-nebula
and output from supercomputer simulations of the colliding stellar winds in the Eta Carinae binary: http://nasa3d.arc.nasa.gov/detail/eta-carinae-high  and
http://nasa3d.arc.nasa.gov/detail/eta-carinae-low.

 

Why We Need Your Help!

As a percentage of the total United States federal budget, NASA’s budget for the past few years (2012 – present) has been at its lowest since the founding of the agency. Only NASA’s first two years (1958 & 1959) had significantly lower budgets. Moreover, NASA's budget as a percentage of the total federal budget is estimated to continue dropping for the foreseeable future (at least until 2020). Additionally, only a small fraction of NASA’s budget goes towards education and public outreach. As a result, projects such as ours are finding it more and more difficult to obtain funding.

NASABudget
Sources: U.S. Office of Management and Budget; NASA

If you are someone who appreciates astronomy, space science, and the study of the Universe, or just science in general, we ask that you please help us bring that same sense of wonder and appreciation to others, specifically, the visually impaired. Your help will allow us to inspire and educate a new, often neglected audience. The students we reach may, as a result of this work, end up pursuing scientific careers, possibly leading to world-changing discoveries that benefit all of us, including future generations. We also hope to inspire other scientific researchers to consider making their data, results, and simulations accessible to the visually impaired.

We also ask for your support in order to help send a message to those in charge of determining funding for agencies like NASA and programs that could fund projects like ours. Typically, only about 0.66% of an individual's federal income tax dollars support NASA (
https://www.whitehouse.gov/2014-taxreceipt). Compare that to ~24.5% going towards Health Care expenses and 23.9% towards National Defense. Support for our project from ordinary citizens like you helps demonstrate that the public is interested in science, science education, and in bringing the wonders of the Universe to everyone, regardless of ability.

 

How to possibly help without a financial contribution

If you are unable to contribute financially, but have access to a suitable 3D printer, you may be able to help us by printing and donating 3D models to our project, or to local schools/museums/etc. in your area. Professional educators that would be willing to implement our lesson plans in their schools, at their museums, etc., and collect data on the educational effectiveness of the 3D models and curricula are also encouraged to contact us at: 3DPrintTheUniverse@gmail.com

 

Our First Goal ($15,000):

Initial 3D Prints, Lesson Plans, and Studies

Before we can develop a true long-term and sustainable solution for teaching general astronomy and astrophysics to the visually impaired, we must first demonstrate that our 3D printed models and the lesson plans we develop can effectively and accurately teach visually impaired students. To accomplish this, we will perform quantitative studies at a series of schools representing a variety of students of different ages, backgrounds, grade levels, and locations. While initial results from our work have been positive, it is important that we perform a small study and publish the results in peer-reviewed journals so that we may convince the broader astronomy and education communities of the impact and effectiveness of our work. Such studies are crucial for raising future funding to further develop and expand our project to reach more students and address a wider variety of concepts.

Our main goals with this initial campaign are to:

1) Purchase 3D printed model sets for donation to a selection of schools for both the visually impaired and sighted students in the United States, Mexico, and Europe (or more depending on funding).

2) Develop lesson plans at various grade levels for use with the 3D models.

3) Implement lesson plans and 3D models at the schools selected and perform studies assessing the models’ and lesson plans’ effectiveness.

 

Where Does the Money Go?

Description of Materials Needed

Our initial project will focus on teaching basic concepts from stellar astronomy and astrophysics, using 3D prints of Eta Carinae’s Homunculus nebula and binary colliding stellar winds. The three initial activities we plan to develop are:

1) Eta Carinae Homunculus Nebula Activity: A 30 - 45  minute activity on identifying structures in Eta Carinae’s bipolar Homunculus nebula. The lesson will cover the topics of size/scale in the Universe, geometry, physical origins of nebulae, stellar evolution, and binary stars.

2) Eta Carinae Colliding Stellar Winds Activity: A 1 - 1.5 hour activity on understanding the colliding stellar winds in the Eta Carinae binary star system. Topics will include size/scale in the Universe, binary stars, eccentric orbits, massive stars, stellar mass loss, and stellar evolution.

3) Eta Carinae HST Spectra Activity: A 20 - 30 minute lesson on understanding stellar spectra of Eta Carinae obtained with the Hubble Space Telescope. Topics will include stellar temperature, stellar radiation, stellar spectra, and binary stars.


3D print models that need to be purchased for the project include:

  • 3D prints of Eta Carinae’s Homunculus Nebula, based on the 3D model in Steffen et al. (2014). To be used in the “Eta Carinae Homunculus Nebula” activity. Multiple models are needed for use by multiple students in each class. Cost ~$1,500, includes shipping.

3DHomunculusPrints
Eta Carinae Homunculus Nebula 3D Print Models (Credit: F. Reddy)

  • 3D prints of Eta Carinae’s colliding stellar winds at orbital phases of apastron, periastron, and three months after periastron, assuming two different primary star mass-loss rates, as published in Madura et al. (2015). A total of six 3D prints are required at minimum for each classroom. To be used in the “Eta Carinae Colliding Stellar Winds” activity. Cost ~$7,500, includes shipping.

EtaCar3DCollidingWindsDetail  
CollidingWinds3DPrints2Credit: T. Madura

  • 3D prints of spectral data cubes showing line emission from Eta Carinae’s colliding stellar winds, as observed by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2011 and 2014 at orbital phases of apastron and periastron, respectively. A minimum of two data cube 3D prints are required for each classroom. To be used in the “Eta Carinae HST Spectra” activity. Cost ~$1,500, includes shipping.

EtaCarinaeHSTSpectrum
HSTDatacubesCredit: T. Madura (Eta Carinae inset: N. Smith, J. Morse et al., ESA & Hubble/NASA)

Funds may also be used to help compensate education specialists that will monitor the classroom education activities and collect study data. Some funds may be used to publish our results in peer-reviewed journal articles. To help save on costs, all 3D print files and lesson plans will be made freely available online, so that schools with access to their own 3D printer can print the 3D models themselves and implement the lesson plans as they see fit. This will allow us to potentially reach more schools while also saving on 3D printing, materials, and mailing costs.

 

Project Timeline

Our current timeline for this initial project is as follows:

December 2015:  Revised 3D print model of Homunculus nebula complete.

Jan. – Feb. 2016:  Revise 3D print models of Eta Carinae’s Colliding Winds based on available feedback from visually impaired students and educators.

March 2016:  Work on development of all 3 project activity lesson plans. Revised 3D print models of Eta Carinae’s Colliding Stellar Winds completed.

April
May 2016:  Work on development of all 3 project activity lesson plans. Develop 3D printable Hubble Space Telescope spectral data cubes.

June 2016:  Work on developing 3D Hubble Space Telescope Spectra activity. Eta Carinae Homunculus and Colliding Stellar Winds activities complete.

July – August 2016:  Complete 3D
Hubble Space Telescope Spectra activity. Locally test all 3 activities and refine before dissemination at selected schools. Complete all 3 activities and prepare for dissemination.

September 2016:  Disseminate completed 3D prints and lesson plans to schools for implementation.

October 2016:   Implement Eta Carinae Homunculus Nebula activity and collect study data.

November 2016:  Implement Eta Carinae Colliding Stellar Winds activity and collect study data.

December 2016:  Implement Eta Carinae
Hubble Space Telescope Spectra activity and collect data.

Early 2017:  Publish peer-reviewed journal articles on results of the 3D models and activities.

As can be seen above, we hope to develop this project over the course of the next year in time for implementation of the 3D models and activities in the school year beginning in approximately August/September 2016. Updates on our progress will be available via a mailing list that includes all contributors to our project and a project website currently under development.

 

Stretch Goals

The number of schools we reach and number of activities we develop are limited only by the amount of funding we can raise. $15,000 is what we estimate is required to start the project with 3 activities at about 6 schools, but larger amounts will allow us to reach more students and develop other activities.


Stretch 1: More Schools in More Places ($30,000 - $60,000)
We can extend the program to up to four times as many schools and can include schools in more countries throughout Europe, plus schools in Africa, Asia, Australia, and Central/South America.

Stretch 2: More Astronomy ($100,000)
In addition to including more schools in more regions, we can start developing new activities involving a wider array of astronomical objects and topics, including rockets, objects in the solar system, other types of stars and stellar systems, galaxies, and large scale structure in the Universe.

Stretch 3: A True Pedagogy for Visually Impaired Astronomy ($250,000)
We can recruit other researchers and educators and begin developing a truly long-term and sustainable international program to teach astronomy and astrophysics to the visually impaired. A wide array of 3D models and activities covering numerous topics in astronomy and astrophysics can be developed and donated. Several studies and peer-reviewed articles on the implementation and effectiveness of our results can be performed and written.

Stretch 4: More Science for Everyone! ($500,000)
We can start recruiting researchers and educators from other scientific disciplines and begin creating 3D prints and lesson plans for visually disabled students in other fields.

Again, the possibilities are almost endless, as our idea is not necessarily limited to astronomy. However, astronomy and astrophysics are inherently visual sciences and are areas that historically have neglected visually impaired students. If we are fortunate to raise enough funding (~$500,000), we can potentially change completely how the physical sciences are taught to the visually impaired.

Moreover, our project is not limited to educating the visually impaired. The activities and 3D models we develop can be used for the education of sighted students as well. Our 3D models can be used for outreach at museums, planetariums, visitor centers, etc., around the world.

 

Backer Rewards

Thank You! ($2) - Thank you for supporting our project and for helping bring astronomy to the visually impaired!  You will be included on our mailing list for updates on our project's status.

 

A Token of Our Appreciation ($30) - In addition to being included on our mailing list for project updates, you will receive a 3" NASA patch or a NASA lapel pin as a token of our appreciation.

NASAPatchNASALapelPin

 

Your Own Nebula ($80) - As a thank you for your support, you will receive a 3D print of Eta Carinae's Homunculus Nebula (40 mm in length, color may vary), the world's first 3D printed nebula. You will also receive a thank you letter from project leader Thomas Madura and inclusion on our mailing list for updates.

40mm Credit: F. Reddy

 

Ask an Astrophysicist ($200) - In addition to a larger (60 mm long) 3D print of the Homunculus Nebula with a display stand, a thank you letter, and inclusion on our mailing list for project updates, you will be able to send up to 4 emails for asking questions on any topic of interest to project leader and astrophysicist, Dr. Thomas Madura.

60mmHomunculus

 

 

The Choice is Yours ($500) - You will receive your choice of an exclusive 100 mm long color-coded 3D print of Eta Carinae's Homunculus Nebula OR a 3D print of Eta Carinae's binary colliding stellar winds, created from a NASA supercomputer simulation. You will also be able to send up to 5 emails for asking questions on any topic of interest to project leader Dr. Thomas Madura.

ColorCodedHomunculus EtaCarCollidingWindsModel

 

 

Your Own Binary Star System ($1,000) - Receive a full-color sandstone 3D print of Eta Carinae's binary stars and colliding stellar winds, created from a NASA supercomputer simulation of the system. Colors in the model correspond to the density of the primary star's stellar wind. As an added thank you, contributors will also receive a 20 minute long Skype or phone call with project leader Dr. Thomas Madura. If your donation is $2,500 or more, you may also specify that a set of 3D models from the project be donated to a school, museum, etc., of your choosing.

FullColorEtaCarFull-color sandstone 3D print of Eta Carinae's binary colliding winds, courtesy of WhiteClouds.

 

Your Own Evolving Binary Star System ($5,000; Limited to 15) - You will receive an exclusive and rare complete set of full-color sandstone 3D prints of Eta Carinae's binary stars and colliding stellar winds at three different times during the 5.54-year binary orbit, created from a time-dependent NASA supercomputer simulation. Additionally, donators will receive a one-hour long Skype or phone call with project leader Dr. Thomas Madura. Personal acknowledgement to the donator will also be made in any publications that result from the project. The donor may also specify that a set of 3D models from the project be donated to a school, museum, etc., of their choosing.

ColorEtaCarModels

CollidingWinds3DPrints(Note: Models at this level will be full-color sandstone 3D prints.)

 

Meet an Astrophysicist ($10,000; Limited to 5) - For the first five contributors to this level, project leader and astrophysicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Dr. Thomas Madura, will visit your business or institution and give a one-hour talk on the study of massive stars, Eta Carinae, and the project. Alternative topics and meetings may also be possible. If the five rewards at this level are taken, you have the option to instead receive one of the fifteen 'Your Own Evolving Binary Star System' rewards above. Acknowledgement to the donor will be made in any publications that result from the project and the donor may specify that a set of 3D models from the project be donated to a school, museum, etc., of their choosing.  
DrMadura

 

The Final Frontier ($15,000; Limited to 3) - The first three contributors at this level will receive a personal guided tour of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center by astrophysicist and project leader, Dr. Thomas Madura. This tour will include a viewing of the James Webb Space Telescope (the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope) currently under construction (reward may be subject to security approval). Acknowledgement to the donor will be made in any publications that result from the project and the donor may specify that a set of 3D models from the project be donated to a school, museum, etc., of their choice. If the three awards at this level are taken, you have the option to receive one of the five 'Meet an Astrophysicist' rewards instead.NASAGSFC
Image Credit: NASA's GSFC/Bill Hrybyk

JWST_CleanroomCredit: http://www.jwst.nasa.gov/webcam.html

 

Who We Are

Our team consists of former and current NASA astrophysicists and engineers, university professors at UNAM in Mexico and Johannes Kepler University in Austria, and education specialists of both visually impaired and sighted students, who are donating their time to this project. We note that the involvement of NASA scientists and educators on this project does not imply endorsement by NASA or any other federal agency. Team member involvement should also not be taken to imply any official endorsement by that team member's past or current employers. Our lead project members are:

 

Thomas Madura, Ph.D.
Professional Astrophysicist and Project Leader,
Universities Space Research Association and
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, MD, USAMadura
Image Credit: Bill Hrybyk/NASA

Dr. Thomas Madura is a Universities Space Research Association visiting scientist and theoretical astrophysicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. He is a former NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow, NASA Graduate Student Researchers Program Fellow, and National Science Foundation GK-12 Fellow. He is a pioneer in applying 3D printing methods to astrophysics research and outreach, and an advocate for the use of interactive 3D models in scientific journal publications. His research focuses on studying the nature and evolution of the Universe's most massive stars and he is a world expert on Eta Carinae.

 

Wanda Diaz-Merced, Ph.D.
Professional Astrophysicist

WandaDiaz
Image Credit:
William Leibman

Dr. Wanda Diaz-Merced is a blind professional astrophysicist, computer scientist, and strong advocate for making astronomy accessible to the visually impaired. She develops software to analyze astronomical data using sound. She is also the lead of AstroSense, a project created by the International Astronomical Union Office of Astronomy for Development that helps bring astronomy to the visually impaired. Dr. Diaz-Merced has worked in such prestigious institutions as NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

 

Dave Dooling, M.S. Science Education; M.S. Space Studies
Director of Education,
New Mexico Museum of Space History, NM, USADaveDooling
Image courtesy of NMMSH

Mr. Dave Dooling is the Director of Education at the New Mexico Museum of Space History. He also has contacts at the New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired and will help deliver our 3D prints and activities to students there. With M.S. degrees in Space Studies and Science Education, Mr. Dooling is just one of the education specialists that will assist with the development of our education activities and their assessment. He previously worked with the National Solar Observatory (2002 - 2012) and the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (1977 - 2002). He has worked in payload support for Space Shuttle science missions, co-authored five books, and won writing awards from the National Space Club.

 

Theodore Gull, Ph.D.
Retired NASA Astrophysicist,
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, MD, USATedGull
Image Credit: Media INAF

Dr. Theodore Gull is a recently retired astrophysicist from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, where he worked for 38 years on various important NASA science missions, including Astro-1 and the Hubble Space Telescope. He was the Deputy Principal Investigator of the Hubble Space Telescope Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (HST/STIS) GTO team and has extensive experience in the use of HST/STIS. He is also a world expert on the Eta Carinae system and has published well over 60 refereed and 175 contributed research papers on it and the surrounding Homunculus nebula.

 

Wolfgang Steffen, Ph.D.
Professor and Professional Astrophysicist,
Institute for Astronomy,
National
Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM),
Ensenada, Mexico

WolfgangSteffen
Image Credit: Campus Mexico

Dr. Wolfgang Steffen is a professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Ensenada, Mexico. Dr. Steffen works on the interface between theoretical studies of hydrodynamic flows and their observations. He helped develop the 3D morpho-kinematic modeling code SHAPE that allows us to model the 3D shape of astrophysical systems, like nebulae, using spectroscopic mapping observations. His SHAPE code was key to creating the 3D printable model of Eta Carinae's Homunculus nebula, and will be crucial for our work 3D modeling other astrophysical systems. Dr. Steffen will also assist in the dissemination of the 3D models and lesson plans to schools in Mexico.

 

Kenneth Silberman, B.A., M.Eng., J.D.
NASA Engineer, Education Specialist, and Registered Patent Attorney,
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

KenSilberman
Credit: K. Silberman/American Foundation for the Blind

Mr. Kenneth Silberman is a blind NASA engineer, education specialist, and registered patent attorney working within the Office of Education at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. His work focuses on recruiting students with disabilities for NASA internships and helping manage the online NASA internship application system. Mr. Silberman will assist in the development and dissemination of the 3D models and curricula to numerous schools for the visually impaired throughout the United States.


Jerry Ropelato, B.S.
CEO,
WhiteClouds, Inc., UT, USA
JerryRopelato

Mr. Jerry Ropelato is the CEO of WhiteClouds, Inc., a 3D printing service company in Utah. Mr. Ropelato is the former CEO of space.com and is passionate about bringing the wonders of astronomy to the visually impaired.

 

Zoltan Major, Ph.D.
Professor and Head of the Institute of Polymer Product Engineering,
Johannes Kepler University, Linz, AustriaZoltanMajor
Dr. Zoltan Major is a professor at the Johannes Kepler University in Linz, Austria, and the head of the University's Institute for Polymer Product Engineering. He is an advocate of bringing the wonders of science and engineering to students with disabilities and will assist with the development of 3D prints using durable materials suitable for extensive handling by the visually impaired. He will also assist with creating 3D models with appropriate surface properties to convey necessary details without leading to misconceptions. Dr. Major will also help with the dissemination of the 3D models and curricula to schools in Austria.

 

Denise Davis, B.A., M.P.A., M.S.
STEM Engagement Lead,
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Ms. Davis is one of our main contacts within the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Office of Education and will assist with the education program component of the project. She is the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Lead within the Office of Education at NASA Goddard and will help us create a sustainable effort so that the program content will have multiple utility for science learning at all student levels, especially among people with visual disabilities.

 

  Budget Breakdown

See "Where Does the Money Go" section above.

 

  Risks and Challenges

One of the biggest unintended consequences we may encounter is the introduction of misconceptions based on the quality of the 3D print models. The 3D prints need to be of high quality so that surface features created because of the 3D printing process, such as surface roughness due to the stacking of layers printed using the Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) process typical in most affordable 3D printers, are not misinterpreted by students as true physical structures. There are many ways this issue can be dealt with, the simplest being to use a high-quality industrial 3D printer with a very high resolution, or using 3D printing methods that are not based on FDM. Another issue is the robustness of the 3D models once they are printed. The 3D prints will be subject to excessive handling by the students and need to be durable enough to last years without important surface features either breaking or wearing away. We plan to address this by experimenting with different 3D print materials, such as ABS and flexible elastomers. We must also be careful not to overwhelm the students with too much information in one particular model, so as to discourage them. The models will be developed to convey very specific ideas or concepts.

 

 

 

Team

  • Project Leader: Thomas Madura (Individual)
  • Location: Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt Road, Greenbelt, MD, United States
  • Organizer:

    Thomas Madura

    Contact the organizer

Select a reward

3D Printing the Universe

With your help and the help of researchers at NASA, we plan to use 3D printing to teach astronomy and astrophysics to the visually impaired.