3D printing and Education Innovation Award

Dr Claire Smith, Head of Anatomy

3D printed anatomy models

In researching how students learn anatomy, I was struck by the stages of learning and the interplay of different factors; spatial ability, personality and approach to learning. Anatomy is a three-dimensional (3D) subject and any learning which includes touch –mediated perception has been shown to increase understanding. The opportunity for 3D learning is limited to the dissection suite and I wanted to create opportunities for this type of learning in the students own environment.

In a process that has taken three years so far, we obtained consent for a recently-deceased individual to have a high fidelity CT scan and then rendered their data set to produce 3D models on a 3D printer. This sentence does make me smile as it is so easy to say but the amount of work involved was considerable.  Jointly with an MSc student, we undertook pedagogical research to assess the use and students perceptions of the 3D models. In a continual learning cycle, we have adapted them and the project has grown from a ‘loan system’ to a ‘buy system’, as none of the students wanted to bring the models back!

The project has grown from a ‘loan system’ to a ‘buy system’, as none of the students wanted to bring the models back!

The day to day work of the 3D printing is undertaken by Lucinda Evans, Anatomy Technician, and it is her who has the nightmares when it just prints a plastic blob! She has articulately developed her digital skills so that we have been able to successfully produced hundreds of 3D prints to date for our students.

I knew that this project was on the forefront of teaching techniques. 3D printing exists in anatomy but typically much more on a high scale, high price end. Our initiative is akin to a garden shed project – lower scale and lower cost – and hence the models can be offered to the students to purchase for just £5.

I was of course extremely delighted to be awarded the prize and look forward to presenting the work and collecting the award at ASME in Exeter later this year.

I decided to apply for the Education Innovation Award of ASME on the ‘you’ve got to be in it to win it’ philosophy and that I was just pleased that a team would read the application and know of the idea and the work going on within BSMS.  I was of course extremely delighted to be awarded the prize and look forward to presenting the work and collecting the award at ASME in Exeter later this year.  A manuscript is in submission that covers all of the work and I would be happy to share this if anyone would like further information.

 

 

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