May 26, 2020

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To help students think in 3-D, a geologist turns to paper model making

Reduce, fold, glue! University at Buffalo hydrology researcher Chris Lowry hopes that constructing paper aquifers will aid college students fully grasp principles associated to groundwater. Credit rating: Douglas Levere / University at Buffalo

Scissors. Purple glue sticks. Paper patterns to cut out and fold.


Chris Lowry teaches innovative geology college classes at the University at Buffalo. But some of the applications he brings to course evoke the joy of grade college.

Lowry is creator of the Foldable Aquifer Project—a sequence of 3-D paper versions of aquifers, which (in true everyday living) consist of layers of permeable rock, sand and gravel that maintain h2o underground.

Each individual paper aquifer assists college students fully grasp a certain challenge tied to subterranean h2o storage, these types of as how pumping h2o out of a nicely affects neighboring wetlands.

Lowry has designed about 20 of the versions so far, all available to down load for free of charge on the undertaking internet site.

“Geology is a 3-D science, but almost everything we give to college students is on a two-D piece of paper,” says Lowry, an associate professor in the Office of Geology and Office of Surroundings and Sustainability in the UB Higher education of Arts and Sciences. “With the foldable aquifers, college students don’t have to think about what a two-D drawing seems to be like in 3-D.”

“I used the aquifers in course this year, and college students look to be fairly pumped on it,” Lowry says (no pun meant). “Not anyone took the time to fold the versions, and there are some college students who don’t will need that they can do it in their thoughts. But there are other college students who had difficulties on a research assignment, and when I gave them the folded design, right away they had this lightbulb type of instant. They had been like, “Oh. I see what you might be conversing about now.'”

Credit rating: University at Buffalo

Thinking exterior the box

Lowry commenced designing the versions when on sabbatical in 2019. He established aside an hour a working day to work on them and produce corresponding research assignments.

But the project’s inspiration—like the scissors and glue sticks—draws from childhood.

Lowry remembers going to a cafe identified as the Aged Spaghetti Manufacturing facility when he was a boy. Youngsters bought paper trolleys to fold throughout the food, he says, and he was reminded of that tactile experience one particular working day throughout workplace hours.

“I had this challenge I gave in course the place the handout confirmed what the aquifer would appear like from the side, the top rated and the other side,” he remembers. “I folded the paper in workplace hours. And when I folded that paper in 50 percent, I was like, these had been absolutely like those trolleys I produced when I was a child.”

Jeremy Inventory, a UB geology master’s university student and qualified artist and caricaturist, says he enjoys the foldable aquifer notion. He and Lowry talked over the versions when Lowry was developing them. Afterwards, Inventory took a course in which Lowry gave college students assignments involving the aquifers.

To help students think in 3D, a geologist turns to paper model making
University at Buffalo hydrology researcher Chris Lowry has established numerous foldable aquifers to aid college students visualize how h2o is saved underground. Credit rating: Douglas Levere / University at Buffalo

“It can be this type of aged-college mini project—a very little artwork you can do when you might be performing your hydrogeology research,” says Inventory, who teaches artwork to substantial college college students in Buffalo. “You can maintain it in your hand and convert it all over, which is handy simply because one particular of the troubles in teaching is to get persons to assume in three proportions.”

The foldable aquifers look “absolutely like a Chris matter,” Inventory provides. “He likes to assume exterior the box.”

Research assignment—and souvenir?

Lowry bought a wonderful response from colleagues when he shared the undertaking on Twitter and at a modern conference. His internet site does not still observe downloads, so he isn’t guaranteed how quite a few persons are using his patterns. But he hopes that other educators will uncover and benefit from the paper aquifers.

“Faculty members will need applications in their classroom, still they don’t have time to entirely develop all of these applications,” he says. “These foldable aquifers are intended to be a plug and participate in type of matter. If you might be performing a lecture on Darcy’s law, which has to do with h2o stream, you could just go to the Darcy’s law challenge and give the aquifer and research assignment to your college students.”

  • To help students think in 3D, a geologist turns to paper model making
    Each individual foldable aquifer assists college students fully grasp principles associated to groundwater. This one particular focuses on how drawing h2o from a nicely could affect a wetland. Credit rating: Douglas Levere / University at Buffalo
  • To help students think in 3D, a geologist turns to paper model making
    Each individual foldable aquifer assists college students fully grasp principles associated to groundwater. This one particular focuses on a notion identified as hydraulic conductivity. Credit rating: Douglas Levere / University at Buffalo
  • To help students think in 3D, a geologist turns to paper model making
    A handful of folded aquifers. Credit rating: Douglas Levere / University at Buffalo
  • To help students think in 3D, a geologist turns to paper model making
    A handful of unfolded aquifers. Credit rating: Douglas Levere / University at Buffalo

It can be a innovative way, Lowry says, to make courses intriguing and interact college students in imagining about h2o.

“Possibly you unquestionably hated my course and you might be going to burn off your aquifer at the conclusion of the semester, but I assume these matters could sit on students’ desk for a when,” Lowry says. “They could appear at their aquifer afterwards on. Now, I have touched them one particular far more time and produced them assume about hydrogeology.”


Towards a smarter way of recharging the aquifer


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To aid college students assume in 3-D, a geologist turns to paper design earning (2020, February 20)
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