Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering

Degree Level



Civil Engineering


Bernhardt-Barry, Michelle

Committee Member/Reader

Datta, Jyotishka

Committee Member/Second Reader

Hall, Kevin


Spatial visualization abilities have been shown to be a key predictor of success in science, technology, engineering, and math fields. Past research has revealed that women and underrepresented minorities tend to lag behind in spatial visual abilities, however, research has also shown that these skills can be improved with guided practice. This study seeks to examine whether 3D printed aids help spatial visual retention in 6th graders. A modified Purdue spatial visualization test was used as the assessment standard. Students’ mental rotation abilities were assessed before and after the 3D printed aids were administered. Data was collected from five different schools in Northwest Arkansas to measure the effectiveness of the 3D aids and to examine the performance of students across various gender, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. A prospective power calculation was performed to ensure that the sample size for each group was sufficient enough for significant differences to be detected. A P-value of 8.2x10-16 was obtained for significant difference between the pre and post assessments. This indicates that the post scores were significantly higher than the pre scores, while adjusting for the other factors. The results suggest that the blocks are effective in improving scores on the Modified Purdue Visualization of Rotation test regardless of a student’s gender, socioeconomic background, or language.


3D Printing, Visual Spatial Abilities, Mental Rotation, Middle School Students