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Chris Geanious Uses Idea2Product lab for Hands-on Learning

Chris Geanious, Instructional Designer at TILT.

Chris Geanious is an Instructional Designer for Colorado State University’s, The Institute for Learning and Teaching (TILT).Geanious has been working closely with the Idea2Product lab to enhance students learning experience by being able to have hands on learning. Geanious received a Bachelors in Forestry Management and Masters in Education with an emphasis on Curriculum and Instruction as well as Educational Technology. Geanious began his career as the Educational Technology Support Systems Analyst at Northern Arizona University.

3D Print of tRNA. Photo by Hillary Lorsch

One of Geanious’ first chances to use the I2P lab was when he was redesigning Life 210 with Paul Laybourn. “It is hard for students to grasp the material,” Geanious said. That’s why he suggested Laybourn print models of proteins like Transfer Ribonucleic Acid (tRNA) and Nuclear Core Complex to incorporate this active learning. Their prints originally began in the Idea2Product lab where our staff helped train Laybourn and introduce 3D printing to him. Last summer in conjunction with I2P staff, Geanious and Laybourn built a flexy-dually printer so that they could easily print proteins with flexible filament to show how the proteins change shape in real life. “Without the expert help of I2P staff, the building of this custom printer would have been impossible,” Geanious said. Geanious is also working with Aaron Sholders, Senior Instructor in BioChem and Molecular Biology, to adapt this printing concept into his classroom and he now has his students print their own 3D enzymes and then at the end of the semester they print a mutated form of their enzyme. For students who have never created 3D printable designs, there is a site called PyMOL that is a molecular visualization system on an open source foundation, maintained and distributed by Schrodinger. The site provides STL formatted files needed for printing.

3D Print of a Nuclear Core Complex. Photo by Hillary Lorsch

Geanious’ next project was working with the CSU Mountain Campus in recreating a 3D Topographic Map and the surrounding landmarks. “NR220 had a 3D relief map that was made from plaster and over the years, the packrats were eating the top of the mountains,” Geanious said. The average size print bed in the I2P lab is about 6in by 6in, therefore if Geanious wanted to print the topographic with one of these printers he’d have to split it into about 24 different prints. That’s when Geanious decided he was going to build a 2 ft by 2ft printer so they could print it in 6 pieces. With the help of the I2P staff and a grant from CSU Ventures, Geanious built his printer.  “I2P staff were incredibly helpful in the design and construction of this printer,” Geanious said. Once the map was printed they experimented with the idea of painting the mountains but decided to take it a few steps further by creating a projector that will project GIS (Geographic Information Systems) layers of the agriculture as well as what it may look like in different types of weather. This gives the audience a more interactive learning experience with the map.

This past January Geanious and I2P Manager, Ray Huff, led a professional development institute to talk about the lab. The institute was so successful, the I2P lab in conjuction with TILT, plan on staging workshops this Spring for select faculty to help implement the use of 3D printing in their classes. I2P lab with the help of TILT hope to expand the interest with 3D printing outside of engineering to colleges and departments across campus. Chris Geanious is changing the meaning of hands on learning and there’s no turning back from here.