June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
26.111.1 - 26.111.24
A Rotational Mechanics Laboratory Exercise Developed and Tested by StudentsStatics and dynamics are taught in the same semester as a single course in our engineeringprogram, typically during a student’s fourth semester. Although physics and chemistry courseshave familiarized students with university-level science courses and laboratories, the statics anddynamics course is a student’s first experience with a science course with laboratory componentthat is specifically engineering. While the course’s lectures and homework assignments teachstudents to find theoretical solutions to statics and dynamics problems, the laboratory exercisessimultaneously teach students to experimentally determine these same values. Although theseconcepts are being taught simultaneously in the classroom and the laboratory, it has beenobserved that students sometimes struggle to see the connections between the theory taught inthe classroom and the practical application taught in the laboratory.In order to develop a laboratory exercise that could better help students make connectionsbetween classroom theory and laboratory application, a student was recruited to performdevelopment tasks. The student who was chosen was only one month removed from completionof the statics and dynamics course; this way, the student’s experience of the course was fresh intheir mind, and they would be able to remember difficulties they or their peers had makingconnections while they were taking course.The focus of the student developed laboratory exercise was rotational mechanics. The studentdeveloping the laboratory exercise had not been exposed to a rotational mechanics laboratoryexercise when they took statics and dynamics the previous semester; therefore, the laboratoryexercise was developed without any bias toward what a laboratory exercise focused on rotationalmechanics should or should not be. The student was given a budget and was told to use a bicyclewheel (as our students tend to have a variety of prior experiences with bicycles) and anaccelerometer as the main features of the exercise. The student was given the freedom topurchase or develop any other laboratory equipment that they saw as beneficial to the laboratoryexercise they created.This paper will report on how the student’s experience completing the statics and dynamicscourse impacted their decision making when designing the laboratory exercise. The paper willcover the technical aspects of the laboratory exercise, including the equipment set up that wasdeveloped, problems that were encountered, and how data was taken and interpreted. There willalso be a discussion of how the second student responded to completing the laboratory exercise,and how well the student appeared to understand the concepts of rotational mechanics aftercompletion of the exercise. Changes made to the laboratory exercise will be discussed, and thefinal laboratory exercise to be implemented in the Spring 2015 statics and dynamics course willbe provided.
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