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Alphatome—Enhancing Spatial Reasoningby: Elizabeth E. LeClair

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Using refrigerator magnets, foam blocks, ink pads, and modeling clay, students manipulate the letters of the alphabet at multiple angles, reconstructing three-dimensional forms from two-dimensional data. This exercise increases students’ spatial reasoning ability, an important component in many scientific disciplines.

Grades
  • College

A selection from Journal of College Science Teaching—September/October 2003

  • Publication Date
    9/1/2003
  • Volume
    034
  • Issue
    01
  • ISSN
    Not Available
  • Pages
    6

Community ActivitySaved in 11 Libraries

Reviews (3)
  • on Wed Oct 29, 2014 7:16 PM

My high school anatomy and physiology class used this activity today in preparation for their histology unit. It was a splendid success. Not only did my students enjoy getting their own specimen in "paraffin." At the end of the activity, when drawing their 3-D representation from all their cross sections, it clicked. Everything about which I had been explaining about tissue preparation made sense to them.

Ruth Hutson  (Westmoreland, KS)
Ruth Hutson (Westmoreland, KS)

  • on Wed Mar 02, 2011 12:34 PM

Students enhance their spatial reasoning by modeling how thin sections of tissues are made and viewed. Using alphabet refrigerator magnets and foam alphabet letters, students identify a 3-D specimen when they are only given a 2-D representation. Next, students encase a playdough letter in a block of playdough and cut the block into thin sections. Finally, Students are challenged to identify the letter from the thin sections. Reconstructing 3-d forms from 2-d data is a difficult skill for students to acquire. This hands-on activity gives students the tools they need to master this skill.

Ruth Hutson  (Westmoreland, KS)
Ruth Hutson (Westmoreland, KS)

  • on Thu Dec 16, 2010 8:54 AM

How do we get students to understand two-dimensional representations of three-dimensional data? This article discusses one approach she uses as students try to comprehend the 3-D structure of a life form under a microscope; as a geologist, I frequently found myself trying to understand subsurface glacial deposits using a map of the surface of the earth, or even a set of points to deduce a 2-D surface to arrive at a 3D representation. Most of us have to learn to "read between the lines" in our chosen disciplines; Ms. LeClair provides us an approach for 3-D modeling. Used with tools of our own trade, the concepts can be broadly applied to a number of disciplines.

Jennifer Rahn  (Delafield, WI)
Jennifer Rahn (Delafield, WI)


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