Contest Winner: Formlabs

The Science Visualization Initiative is thrilled to be the winner of the Formlabs Innovate and Educate Challenge. Many thanks to Formlabs for launching this competition and giving us an opportunity to compete. We are very much looking forward to trying out the new 3D printer on our lesson plan, Cool 3D: The Dodecahedron.
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FormlabsA 3D printable dodecahedron and perspective viewing box are the key elements used in the Cool 3D lesson plan.
About the Cool 3D Project

Cool 3D is a program designed to introduce students to the amazing world of 3D digital arts. 3D digital art skills provide a path for students to creative jobs in STEM areas as well as careers in the arts including architecture, 3D modeling & animation, and game design.

These hands-on, minds-on lessons are designed for use with the S.T.E.A.M. Bus, a mobile digital arts platform owned by the Allegany Arts Council, which is based in Cumberland, Maryland. The S.T.E.A.M. Bus will travel to all corners of Allegany County as well as neighboring counties in Western Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, presenting S.T.E.A.M. programming to elementary and middle school-aged students at public schools. The S.T.E.A.M. Bus also serves home-schooled kids and under-served kids in After School programs at the YMCA and Salvation Army. The Cool 3D lesson plan, which is one of several presented on the STEAM Bus, is designed for 5th to 8th grade students.

The S.T.E.A.M. Bus program is managed by the Allegany Arts Council and is a collaboration with local artists, educators, and non-profit organizations including Frostburg State University, Allegany College of Maryland and the Allegany County Library System. The program is also supported by local corporations.

Allegany County is located in rural Appalachia and is the second poorest county in Maryland. Median household income is $39,794, which compares with West Virginia and Mississippi as the lowest in the nation and is far below the state of Maryland’s median household income of $79,372. 18.5% of the population lives in poverty. Cumberland, where the Science Visualization Initiative and the Allegany Arts Council are based, is the poorest town in Maryland and has 15.9% unemployment.

The Allegany Arts Council organized the S.T.E.A.M. Bus program to help students develop a positive outlook toward their futures. The hope is that through this program students will see that having digital arts skills could be a path toward innovative, creative careers. They could start even start their own businesses or be part of a local skilled labor pool that would be attractive to businesses that might consider moving to Allegany County. Through the S.T.E.A.M. Bus and other programs the Allegany Arts Council is employing the arts as a driver in local economic revitalization.

The Science Visualization Initiative is a non-profit organization established by Chris Sloan, who is both the Executive Director of the Allegany Arts Council and the President of Science Visualization, a science media company established in 2010 ( The Science Visualization Initiative’s mission is to raise awareness of the close connection between artistic and scientific creativity through S.T.E.A.M. programming with an emphasis on the digital arts. Sloan was Art Director of National Geographic Magazine from 1992 to 2007 and is passionate about using the visual arts for science education.

The lesson plan entered in the FormLabs competition is Cool 3D: The Dodecahedron, which is one of several being developed by the Science Visualization Initiative for the S.T.E.A.M. Bus program. It is a one hour lesson which will be tested at an Allegany County Library branch this April.

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