This digestive system puzzle was created by me and my partner with communication with the biology department at our high school. We pitched the idea of this puzzle as a learning tool to help the biology classes learn about how the different organs fit together and were placed in the body. The teachers liked the idea and from then on we collaborated with them to produce this design. The puzzle offers students the ability to visually understand how the digestive system works with a hand on experience.
Overview and Background
The first step in this project was creating a sketch. We drew sketches of each individual part (mouth or oral cavity, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum, anus, liver, gallbladder, pancreas). In addition to all of the organs, we also drew a sketch of the body. We based these sketches off of a diagram we received in biology class. Next, we cut out all of the individual sketches of organs and arranged them in the body to get a good idea of how different dimensions worked. After that, we started making the organs and body piece on Solidworks. We both worked on the organs individually and edited each others work as well. After we finished our parts, we met with some of the biology teachers to review each piece. Because of how curvy and long it was, the small intestine did not look quite right so we had to edit that a couple times for it to look right for the biology department. After working more on the small intestine, we met with the biology teacher again and we decided that we needed to make the GI tract look like it all connects. This meant making sure the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum, and anus looked like it connected. We completed this task and in the assembly we had made with the organs and body, we made a cavity of the organs in the body. In addition, we realized the anus piece was much too small and would be lost easily at the size we were printing it at so we connected it to the rectum creating one piece that we coined, "the anum". We also created a cavity in each organ that overlapped with another one. We set the percentage of the cavity to 2% however after printing, it was noticeable that there was not enough room to fit the organs into the body. So we tried 3% on another print and it still wasn't a big enough gap. I ran out of time in the school year to fix this issue, but I will pick it up next school year. I would recommend trial and error here to figure out the best percentage for the organs to fit into their spot in the body's cavity.
This is one example of the trial percentage piece. I just used cut extrude on one section of the body piece so we didn't have to print the entire body to try out each percentage. I printed 4 of these, starting at 3.5% and increasing by 0.5% each print.
Lesson Plan and Activity
- The biology teachers wanted 6-10 sets of these digestive system puzzles with a different color for the body, the main organs (GI tract) and the accessory organs.
- This is a learning tool for the 11th grade biology students which can be used as a hands on tool for partners to use to follow along with the teacher's explanation. Students will be able to visually understand how the digestive system works and it will hopefully help them remember where everything goes so that they can then do well on the labeling part of most 11th grade digestive system tests.
Link To Video of Body Piece 3D-Printing