June 15, 2019
June 15, 2019
June 19, 2019
A Visual, Intuitive and Engaging Approach to Explaining the Center of Gravity Concept in Statics
Due to the prevalence of statics in day-to-day life, most people have an intuitive knowledge regarding the interaction of forces around them. Despite this, many students tend to struggle with statics in classroom settings. The equations and mathematics can be overwhelming and frustrating, in part since they are not visual or intuitive enough and are missing the connection to daily, real-world experiences.
Today’s students in classroom settings also have a plethora of distractions available to them. If students feel bored or frustrated with the material, often times they will browse the Internet on their laptop or pull out their phone. They learn differently, more visually and intuitively, and they have a short attention span. To make them pay attention in class, the material and presentation methods should be visually clear, intuitive and engaging.
This paper focuses on an example-based and engaging approach for teaching a specific statics concept, namely center of gravity. To teach these concepts, the paper shares supplemental tools to utilize during instruction. These include picture-based examples, such as balanced objects and animals; objects for students to attempt to locate the center of gravity, such as a banana or a donut; and try-it-yourself ideas to use with students such as standing up from a chair without leaning forward. The point of this approach is to provide students with easy to understand examples that translate bookwork to real life and help in comprehension of the material. When using these examples students tend to understand the concept of center of gravity more clearly. This more intuitive understanding allows them to be successful when introduced to equations and calculations associated with the topic.
The examples have been introduced to 54 students in a regular classroom setting. At the end they were asked to fill out a survey. Major findings are that student surveys conducted at the end of the topic presentation showed very positive feedback from students and also indicated that this learning method aligns well with their preferences. Survey results also show that students understand the importance of statics concepts as future engineers. The students generally felt that it is important to visualize statics and for statics to be introduced to them using visual examples.
Our survey results also show that students are mixed in their opinion of learning statics through traditional presentations, specifically using PowerPoint presentations and reading textbook chapters. We believe that visual and engaging, example-based learning is effective for teaching today’s students and that the use of similar methods can be employed throughout the entire statics course in order to enhance students’ comprehension experience.
It should be noted that this method of teaching is meant to be supplemental in nature and not to replace existing textbooks and other teaching and learning material and methods.
Raviv, D., & Barb, D. R. (2019, June), A Visual, Intuitive, and Engaging Approach to Explaining the Center of Gravity Concept in Statics Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. https://peer.asee.org/32017
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