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From DELTA Grants to the National Science Foundation: STEM BUILD Continues to Grow

3D printed biomolecules.
STEM BUILD provides digital plans and learning activities for 3D printed tactile teaching tools in the sciences. The project, previously supported by a DELTA Grant, has received funding from the National Science Foundation for further development.

Melissa Ramirez and Claire Gordy of the Department of Biological Sciences have been awarded $75,000 by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to continue the development of STEM BUILD, a project to enhance Universal Design for Learning and improve learning outcomes in STEM courses for all students. Ramirez is a current DELTA Faculty Fellow

STEM BUILD is an open-source website repository of digital plans and learning activities for tactile teaching tools (primarily 3D printables) in the sciences. These tools can be used to create inclusive learning environments and more effective instruction for all students. Instructors who visit the site have the option to view, use, add, and/or remix tactile teaching tools and lesson plans. 

Ramirez and Gordy began working with DELTA in 2017 to develop the STEM BUILD website as part of an Exploratory DELTA Grant. DELTA team members Rebecca Sanchez, David Tredwell and Chris Willis collaborated with NC State OIT Design and Web Services to create the website, which allows users to share and modify 3D printing files, lesson plans and instructions, assessments, learning outcomes and teaching notes.

STEM BUILD is also a hub for makers and educators from high school to college levels to build a community around using tactile teaching tools, connecting those interested in improving their courses with makers who know how to build 3D models and allowing educators who lack the resources or knowledge of 3D design to provide more for their students. The NSF grant will be instrumental in further achieving this goal. 

“It’s a dream to now be able to extend this network even further. We are launching a [project with the] NSF [Research Coordination Network in Undergraduate Biology Education program] to facilitate collaborations among faculty, undergraduates, and makers to develop and assess inclusive tactile teaching tools at nine institutions in the southeast,” Ramirez shared on Twitter

Since 2017, STEM BUILD has supported six undergraduate research students at NC State with funding from DELTA and the College of Sciences. Starting this fall, NSF funding will facilitate institutional recruitment efforts in North Carolina, Georgia and Virginia. The new teams will plan to attend a training summit at NC State and advance the design, assessment and implementation of tactile teaching tools in the field. 

Congratulations to Ramirez and Gordy on this significant achievement! DELTA looks forward to celebrating STEM BUILD’s ongoing progress.