Interdisciplinary Education in the STEM fields

The article I looked at was titled “Three Dimensional printing of skeletal muscle cells: An interdisciplinary approach for studying biological systems”. The article goes over the processes involved with understanding the 3D imagry of a muscle cell using an interdisciplinary approach. The disciplines involved were biology/biotechnology, kinesiology/health science, computer science, and manufacturing engineering. This approach was said to help understand something that was traditionally presented through 2 dimensional pictures and diagrams on text books. The professor behind this project wanted to take the understanding of human muscle cells to the next level.

First, students had to extract and isolate the muscle cell from a 29 year old male volunteer who was willing to help with the research. Once the cell was extracted and isolated, it was put under the microscope for observation. During the observational period, students had to identify the different parts of the cell so they could understand how it looks when it came time to use other disciplines in their research. The other parts of the biology/biotechnology discipline that were included in this project after the cell was isolated and put for observation were florescence labeling and confocal microscopy. This was said to help understand the parts of the cell as well as help students visualize the cell on a 2 dimensional level so that when it came time to use other disciplines of this project, the students would have a better understanding of what they were studying.

Then came time for the computer science/health science portion of this project. Students had to use image and data processing from their observations, which would project their lab work onto the computer in order to replicate/ model the cell from their observations in the lab. This would then get processed for the final step of the project: the 3D printing. This uses the manufacturing engineering discipline. The cell was then printed in a way students have never seen before. After the printing process students could paint their cell based on the parts of the cell.

Before, students could only imagine the physical structure of a muscle cell. Now with 3D printing and computer science incorporated into their biology program, they are able to use interdisciplinary studies to create something new. “Applications of 3D printing are limitless, and the project presented here only begins to highlight the potential for integrating this relatively new technology into laboratory curriculum.” (Bagley and Gapin, 5).

As an interdisciplinarian, I want to use me skill sets to come up with ideas and solutions that people may not have thought possible before. What San Francisco State University is doing here, it teaching students that there are new ways to create something that has not been thought of before, using interdisciplinary studies. Here they use 4 disciplines to create something new so the students understand cell structure of a muscle cell like they have never done before. This experiment is exactly something I would like to bring to the world of science as someone who has studied meteorology, environmental science, computer science, chemistry and mathematics. There are so many things that could be possible with my research and that includes helping people from those disciplines to understand more because of the information that I have. Interdisciplinary research in the STEM fields could prove to create new technology, inspire new innovations, and find solutions for problems that threaten us in our modern world. That is what I love about the interdisciplinary in science, there are endless possibilities and anything is possible. I hope that other scientists can start to use the interdisciplinary in their research because it is bound to be great.

Source: Bagley, James R., and Andrew J. Galpin. “Three-Dimensional Printing of Human Skeletal Muscle Cells: An Interdisciplinary Approach for Studying Biological Systems.”Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, vol. 43, no. 6, Aug. 2015, pp. 403–407., doi:10.1002/bmb.20891.

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One comment

  1. How cool!! We have a senior– Shay Vogel– who has done some cool work between art, design, and science, and she’s learning about 3D modeling right now. I just love the idea of our curriculum moving in this direction so more students could experiment with these creative and visual ways of learning about biology– or any science. Your program bounces along these edges, too, with its intersection of some of the geography tools with the natural science and what not… Just very cool new horizons for students if our curricula can catch up with the technology and the fields!

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