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A Way To Increase The Engineering Student’s Qualitative Understanding Of Particle Kinematics And Kinetics By Utilizing Interactive Web Based Animation Software

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Computational Tools and Simulation I

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.141.1 - 14.141.18

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Paper Authors

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Richard Stanley Kettering University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A Way To Increase The Engineering Student’s Qualitative Understanding of Particle Kinematics and Kinetics By Utilizing Interactive Web Based Animation Software Abstract

Animation software for an introductory Dynamics course has been developed, which may be an integral feature of the web-based learning system, WileyPLUS (John Wiley and Sons, Inc. New York). This interactive software is unique because each animation may be directly linked to a homework problem and absolutely no programming is required of the user. The animations are hard-coded in Adobe Flash Action Script, so no external computer programs are needed.

A study of 58 students was conducted in two sections of Dynamics during the spring term of 2008, where the software was used for both in-class demonstrations and homework assignments. Students used the program to help them answer eight qualitative questions regarding specific particle kinematics and kinetics concepts. A high percentage of students answered these questions correctly (with the assistance of the software).

An anonymous survey was conducted at the end of the term regarding the effectiveness of the software. It was found that the students’ qualitative understanding of particle kinematics and kinetics was significantly improved by using the program. The students consider the software easy to use and recommend it to instructors who teach introductory Dynamics classes.

In this paper, the software functionality will be explained. The results of the subjective assignment will be detailed, and pedagogical advantages will be clarified via survey results and the comments of students.

1. Introduction

In typical Dynamics courses, most homework problems require the student to solve for a given variable at an instant in space and time. The professor typically assigns a set of homework problems and the students solve each problem by hand. The student knows that his or her calculations are correct by checking answers in the back of the book.

In reality, the subject of particle Dynamics is the study of motion and not the calculation of a particle’s point at a particular instance in time. This differentiation is probably lost in the traditional classroom. It is the author’s opinion that computer animations are necessary in order for the students to fully understand the “time and space” nature of the subject of Dynamics.

The animation of Dynamics problems can be done via several commercially available software programs1,2. Animations created by these software packages can be converted into computer- based movies, which can be played on any computer. For interactivity, though, the software must be loaded on the user’s computer, which can be expensive and inconvenient. If a professor wants to use any of these software packages to create interactive Dynamics animations, he or she must take the time to create each individual problem, which can be overwhelming.

Stanley, R. (2009, June), A Way To Increase The Engineering Student’s Qualitative Understanding Of Particle Kinematics And Kinetics By Utilizing Interactive Web Based Animation Software Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas.

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