Web-based tool gives 3-D view inside a cell
Some things are very difficult to visualize from the flat pages of a book. Among them is one of life’s basic building blocks: the cell.
“We know from discussions with educators across the state that the leading science concepts students struggle with are cells and the differences between different types of cells,” said Dr. Neil Lamb, director of educational outreach for the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology.
In response, Lamb and his team have introduced HudsonAlpha Cell. Using techniques found in video gaming, Web-based HudsonAlpha Cell allows viewers to interact with plant, animal and bacteria cells by double clicking to zoom, clicking and dragging to rotate, and performing a simple mouse over for annotations.
“I love introducing it to students,” said Lamb. “You see them immediately engage; their eyes light up and the chatter begins.” According to Lamb, HudsonAlpha Cell transforms the flat images from a book to the visual realm. “It’s what today’s students are accustomed to,” he added.
Dr. Adam Hott, coordinator of educational outreach at HudsonAlpha, noted the Unity 3-D Web player has made all the difference. “It is truly groundbreaking,” said Hott. “Unity, which is free to download, gives students and teachers the ability to interact with a 3-D object in a Web browser.” With Unity, HudsonAlpha Cell will display properly even on an older computer.
The education team quietly offered an alpha version and has recently upgraded to include more features. “One of the most exciting features of HudsonAlpha Cell 2.0 is the ability to choose among three levels of annotation: basic, intermediate and advanced,” said Hott. “Based on teacher feedback, we have included the function to display or remove the annotations. Turning off the annotations allows HudsonAlpha Cell to be used during quizzes and exams,” he added.
HudsonAlpha contracted with Digital Radiance, a resident associate company located in the institute facility, for the execution of HudsonAlpha Cell.
Visit http://beta.hudsonalpha.org/education/digitaleducation/cell to access HudsonAlpha Cell 2.0.
Media Contact: Beth Pugh
About HudsonAlpha: HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology is a nonprofit institute dedicated to innovating in the field of genomic technology and sciences across a spectrum of biological problems. Its mission is three-fold: sparking scientific discoveries that can impact human health and well-being; fostering biotech entrepreneurship; and encouraging the creation of a genomics-literate workforce and society. The HudsonAlpha biotechnology campus consists of 152 acres nestled within Cummings Research Park, the nation’s second largest research park. Designed to be a hothouse of biotech economic development, HudsonAlpha’s state-of-the-art facilities co-locate scientific researchers with entrepreneurs and educators. The relationships formed on the HudsonAlpha campus allow serendipity to yield results in medicine and agriculture. Since opening in 2008, HudsonAlpha, under the leadership of Dr. Richard M. Myers, a key collaborator on the Human Genome Project, has built a name for itself in genetics and genomics research and biotech education, and boasts 26 biotech companies on campus.
About Digital Radiance: Digital Radiance uses online video game technology to teach science. The mission at Digital Radiance is to provide low cost, exciting virtual lab experiences to schools worldwide, embracing the power of video games to reach students of diverse ages and learning style.