Easy Ways to Add Engaging and Innovative Content into the Classroom

As a faculty member, are you feeling like you are teaching the same way with the same content quarter after quarter?  Are you wanting to add engagement into the classroom in a no cost and convenient way?  DU has an easy way to do this in the Innovation Floor right on our own campus!

The Innovation Floor has been up and running since the Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science has opened its doors in the fall of 2016.  Michael Caston, the Innovation Floor Faculty Director, explains “We make ideas into real things.  We provide an experiential learning environment for students, faculty, and the community that allows folks to explore a different perspective to experiment in a low risk atmosphere where you can succeed or fail without consequences.” Michael stated that he sometimes feels like Santa Clause as he gives to other disciplines the tools, equipment, and technology that they may normally never get to use.  He loves to see other faculty outside of engineering and computer science disciplines encourage students to be creative and collaborate with diverse majors as this is where hands on learning can take place.  Students can develop additional skills that help explore the options to connect the dots between different disciplines.

For example, chemistry professor Erich Chapman encouraged his students to create protein molecules in the Innovation Floor for extra credit.  By using the 3-D printer, chemistry majors learn a new skill and technology while seeing a molecule come to life! Biology teaching professor Barbekka Hurtt, printed anatomy anomalies to use in the classroom.  Anthropology professor, Bonnie Clark, added an experiential learning component with her class using the 3-D printers to create replicas of museum pieces.  Faculty can access this welcoming learning environment where their creativity and ideas can come to fruition with help from Michael and his team of 30 student workers.

Don’t have time to take advantage of the Innovation Floor?  You can always encourage your students to create prototypes and projects, learn how to work a 3-D printer, and all the other equipment the Innovation Floor offers.  Michael has seen students from across campus extend themselves outside of their comfort zone by building prototypes for case competitions and new products.  As the Innovation Floor website states “If you can IMAGINE it you can MAKE it.”  The ideas that spring from the Innovation Floor are really unlimited.

So how can DU faculty take advantage of this unique and engaging real world lab?   Contact Michael Caston, Michael.Caston@du.edu, to learn more, tour the facility, and find ways to further engage your students in the classroom.

By Jane Kolb
Jane Kolb Career & Professional Development Jane Kolb