Can 3D/VR immersive and integrated tools enhance DNA nanotechnology education?
As Synthetic DNA nanotechnology is being widely utilized in a diverse range of applications (such as biomedicine, light-harvesting, nanoscale templating, catalytic cascades, photonics, plasmonics, and many more!) focus on workforce development requires a careful look and evaluation. This means - how is the next generation of students and trainees learning about synthetic DNA nanotechnology? Are there any curricula/books/courses that are tailored to the interdisciplinary nature of the field? Does education in different STEM disciplines that are important for DNA nanotechnology facilitate active learning and collaboration? And more importantly, given the three-dimensional nature of DNA nanostructures, can we leverage modern immersive tools to facilitate learning and collaboration? In this work, overarching questions such as these are explored.
The group works closely with Drs. James Lathrop and Stephen Gilbert at Iowa State University to identify STEM training and learning in the field and the role 3D/virtual reality tools can play in enhancing cognition. We have developed a platform called MolCog (from Molecular Cognition) which is a VR-enabled tool to build, manipulate, and learn about DNA origami structures. Ongoing work focuses on how to develop modules that make it fun to learn about DNA origami.