This semester, I had a fantastic and eye-opening opportunity afforded me by my Foundations of the Restoration professor. He assigned everyone a semester long term-project, and my project ended up being a significant experience for me.

The guidelines for the project were loose. Early on, I decided that I wanted to combine some aspect of the Restoration of the Gospel with computer modeling. I came to the conclusion that I could create an accurate, three-dimensional model of the gold plates, based on the several accounts we have of the plates’ size, shape, and color. This would give me the opportunity to both learn about Church history and develop my computer skills.

Soon after deciding on the idea, I realized that creating the 3-D model wouldn’t be substantial enough for the term project. So, I resolved to do something more: to send my design to the library’s 3-D printer, and to create an actual scale model of the plates.

After many hours of researching, modeling, and working with the 3-D printing gurus on the second floor of the library, my project idea became a reality:


Thanks to the help of my wonderful wife, the 3-D printing gurus, and several YouTube videos, I was able to create a computer model of the plates. Then, I was able to make that model and turn it in for my term project.

I was led to reflect on several things when I completed the project. For a moment, I was brought back to Uruguay (where I served my mission). Our Stake President said (in Uruguayan Castellano), “Elders! You must have a strong testimony of the Restoration of the Gospel and of Joseph Smith. Can you imagine seeing God the Father and His Son in the Sacred Grove? Can you hear the words of the angel Moroni? Can you imagine the weight of the plates in your hands?”

These were powerful questions that I’ve remembered for over two years now. For my project, I didn’t use real gold. The model did not weigh as much as the plates would have. It wasn’t as shiny or as impressive as I’m sure the real plates are. But, in some small way, my testimony of Joseph’s receiving and translating the golden plates grew. I can now imagine what it would have been like to receive the plates from a heavenly angel. 6–7 inches wide, 8 inches long, and 4–6 inches thick. And all of it “the appearance of gold.” I can think how it must have been to carry the heavy plates (about 60 pounds), and run away from those who would try to take them. I can imagine Joseph taking the plates home for the first time, the heavy, cool metal in his hands.

I know that the gold plates are real. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and he translated the gold plates by God’s gift and power. Because of this, we have the incredible Church and Gospel that blesses our lives today.

Source: Henrichsen, Kirk B. (compiler). “How Witnesses Described the “Gold Plates.” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, 10/1, 2001, 16-21, 78.