My first paper on 3D printing is published

Before leaving Chicago State University in 2017, I took a sabbatical to explore a very different avenue of research from which I was originally trained.  I became interested in learning how digital fabrication tools, such as 3D printing, can be used to create inexpensive or customized scientific instrumentation that could be used for education or specialized research applications.  Now at The College at Brockport, I’ve finally put together my first 3D printed scientific instrument, which was recently published in the journal HardwareX.  The article, OMIS: The Open Millifluidic Inquiry System for small scale chemical synthesis and analysis, is open access, which means that anyone can read and download the article by heading here.

I’d like to think that when people do something important (like publish an article) they get interviewed.  Unfortunately, it’s that time of the semester where students are so stressed out, the last thing they want to do is talk to professors about anything other than “what’s on the test.”  So, if I were to give an interview, here’s the questions I’d answer (and ask) about the paper.

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Show your spirit – periodically

It’s Homecoming weekend at Brockport and Mandy, the voice-activated periodic table is showing off her school pride with green and gold periodic trends!

The four blocks of the periodic table.

OK, perhaps her colors are a little bit off, but give her a break; she’s a periodic table for crying out loud.  Does your periodic table have this much school pride?

Atomic weight – green is light and gold is heavy.


Periodic Tables at BCCE 2018

I’ve just gotten back from another wonderful BCCE conference (that’s Biennial Conference on Chemical Education) which was held at Notre Dame.  It was a great opportunity to catch up with some friends and colleagues that I’ve missed since leaving CSU last year to join the College at Brockport.

I presented some of the work I’ve been doing on 3D printed periodic tables and will blog about their construction and use in the near future.  There were some folks in the audience who wanted to get started right away with the objects, so I’ve posted them here on my website.  You can download a zip file that contains 19 tables (about 3 MB).

The zip file contains the following periodic trends:

  • atomic radii
  • ionization energies
  • electron affinities
  • electronegativities
  • human abundance
  • exceptions to the aufbau principle
  • absolute (Pearson) hardness

For the first four, there are four different sizes

  • 132×76 $mm^2$ table with title, f-block elements and symbols on each of the blocks.  These objects take about 3 hours to print.
  • 150×21 $mm^2$ table with no title, no f-block elements and symbols on each of the blocks.  These objects take about 2.5 hours to print.
  • 108×36 $mm^2$ table with no title, no f-block elements and symbols on each of the blocks.  These objects take about 2 hours to print.
  • 60×24 $mm^2$ table with no title, no f-block elements and no symbols on the blocks.  These objects take about 45 minutes to print.

As I build a collection of posts and materials for 3D-printed periodic tables, I will collect them here, so if you have interest in this project, bookmark that page.


Students present at undergrad symposium

On April 28th, 2018, my first two undergraduate students at Brockport gave their first poster presentation at a professional meeting.

Shauna and Megan – ready to answer the tough questions.

The meeting was held at The College at Brockport this year.  There were 50 or so posters and about 100 attendees.  We also had a few oral presentations and the keynote speaker was Brockport alum Dr. Michael Nicholson of Precision BioSciences.

Megan and Shauna presented their first semester’s work on developing sensors and methods for OMIS: the Open Millifluidic Inquiry System.  Shauna is developing a method to perform alkalinity measurements in small volumes under dynamic flow conditions and Megan is working on a pH sensor based on anodically electrolyzed iridium oxide films.  They’ve made some great progress not only building confidence in their laboratory skills but also learning how to present their research (in addition to actually doing the work).  I’d consider that a good set of outcomes for their first semester in independent study (as Freshmen, no less).  Expect big things from these ladies.

P.S. Happy Star Wars Day.

Throwback Thursday – Brockport Chemistry take 2

Last week, I posted an early photo of a Chemistry lab from Brockport.  Not to be outdone, my wife Rozenn (historian of the Western Monroe Historical Society at the Morgan Manning House) found this picture in one of her books:The caption for the picture reads:

The [Brockport] Chemistry Laboratory: The 1899 yearbook describes the chemistry laboratory as “one of the best appointed in the state, having ample table room for 50 students at one time … The department has over $2,500 worth of physical apparatus, over 2,500 stereopticon slides and some 3,000 specimens.”

That $2,500 in instrumentation would be a bit over 70 thousand in today’s dollars, and I’m happy to say that our department has far more instrumentation than that.  The reference to thousands of specimens and stereopticon slides got me thinking about what was taught in Chemistry 118 years ago (hey that’s one year for every element on the periodic table).  A quick web search brought me to this article, (which is behind a paywall if you don’t have access to ACS journals) that reviews an historical Chemistry textbook from 1809.  It was written by Jane Marcet to “… provide women with a method of educating themselves in chemistry …” and uses a conversational style that is not seen in contemporary instructional materials.  This #ThrowbackThursday has me thinking about revisiting some teaching styles (to justify procrastinating on that pile of grading for one more day).