From Root to STEM: Using Art & Design to Teach Plant Biology in 3D

Without Roots was a Sci-Art exhibit showcasing larger-than-life models of plant-root cells. Using the 3Doodler Create+ Pen, participants explored the science of plant biology through a tactile experience.

We spoke with Dolores Bartholomew, artist, scientist, and educator from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and host of Without Roots, to show you how this inspiring event can be replicated in your classroom.

Without Roots took place at the Esther Klein Gallery in Philadelphia between August 16th and September 29th. The exhibit featured a STEM workshop sponsored by 3Doodler.

Teaching STEM through art

Without Roots explored how STEM education, through art and design, can present science in ways that excite both scientists and non-scientists. We used 3Doodler pens to produce “cytocells” or plant cell cytoskeletons. Each attendee was invited to create a miniature cytocell using the 3Doodler pen. We then connected each cytocell together, forming lateral roots. This created a truly visual example of “root communication” and how that contributes to the growth of plants.

To better understand the cytoskeleton and its role in cells, students replicated the various parts that make up a cell, tissue, or organ to help them visualize and learn.


How can this be incorporated into your classroom?
  • Using images, explain the details of the subject matter (for example cells), and their functions.

  • Familiarize the students with 3Doodler pens. Have them practice by Doodling related vocabulary words on their DoodlePads®. Check out tips for getting started here.

  • Show students finished examples so they can visualize their goal. Next, have students design their own models using reference images. They can use a DoodlePad® to trace over printed images, adding layers to take their models 3-Dimensional.

  • Once finished, ask each student to explain the science behind their model to help them integrate the knowledge further. Either split students into pairs to share their learnings, or have individual presentations.

  • Last but not least, display the students’ projects for others to view! Exhibiting the models for others to see helps students feel excited about their work.

Learn more about how you can enrich the lives of your students with 3Doodler.

Interested in 3Doodler pens?

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Looking for classroom inspiration?

See Lesson Plans

More about Dolores Bartholomew: Dolores Bartholomew, D.Phil, is the Director and Founder of Meanings of the Heart Art, LLC. She is an Adjunct Professor at Philadelphia University and at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Her gallery exhibitions inspire public learning on the subjects of science, art, and community togetherness. Photographs by Jaime Alvarez

Draw in Wood with the Create+ 3D Printing Pen!

After months of running our Wood filaments through their paces, you can now 3D print in Walnut, Cherry, White Birch and Natural Wood with the 3Doodler Create+ Pen! Now you can make your own wooden sculptures, photo frames, phone cases, or even fix broken floorboards quickly and easily.

Why Wood?!

Made with real wood fiber, all four of our wood filaments allow you to make lightweight structures with a woody finish and a (satisfying) wood aroma. One of the great things about this material is how flexible it is. Prefer a smoother finish? Buff the surface with sanding paper. Want to engrave a message? Carve it with your 3Doodler’s hot nozzle tip. You can also stain the wood to accentuate the detailing of your designs. Want to go truly next level? Apply shellac for a bold glossy finish.

Hey Woody! What shall I make?

With the versatility of our wood filament, the possibilities are as immense as a Giant Sequoia. If you’re new to 3D pen drawing, start with something simple like a Christmas tree for the holidays. Want to build something fun and display-worthy? How about some moveable puppets or these charming row boats (we tested them, and they do float!).

Get artisanal and make yourself a beautiful trinket dish to hold your jewelry and keys. Or if you’re a dollhouse collector, this is the miniature rocking chair mic drop you’ve been waiting for! Finally, for DIYers, go ahead and fix that nagging chip in your floor board in a hot second!

Tips & Tricks
  • To using 3Doodler Wood filaments with the 3Doodler Create+, make sure to set your pen to the PLA temperature setting and extrude on Slow Speed for the best results.

  • If you are using a Create DoodlePad® , simply flip it over and use the back of it – this makes it easier for you to remove your Doodle after it has cooled and hardened.

  • If you’re intent on Doodling your wooden dreams in the air with maximum ease, we recommend dialing it up and using our PRO pen, where you can adjust the temperature for much greater control when working with wood.

Purchase a 3Doodler Create+ Pen and 3D print in Wood now: