Casey Steffens wants to change the way we learn about diabetes. A diabetic himself, Steffens is mixing his background in medical illustration with 3D technology to create dynamic cellular models. Instead of using digital displays for medical education, Steffens’ design allows for a real world-sized model we can hold. The first in what he expects to be a series of models is a hemoglobin protein that carries oxygen through our bloodstreams. A diabetic’s hemoglobin attracts glucose molecules, and Steffens’ invention allows for the attachment of small glucose pieces to the larger hemoglobin model.
Steffens tested hemoglobin idea in a Brooklyn PS321 classroom and found that “the greatest increase in test scores was seen in classes who had exposure to the model.” When used in conjunction with digital media, the fifth-graders scored highest, a result that backs up a recent Carleton College study concluding that real-life and digital combinations are our favorite educational recipe.
Steffens is looking to Next Top Makers to run durability testing, figure out how to cut costs and generate some publicity. In the long run, he’d like to see his educational models not just in schools but in drug stores and big box retailers. Wouldn’t you like to know exactly what’s in those flu shots?