June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
24.152.1 - 24.152.20
The first course in thermodynamics has traditionally been a challenge for students in engineeringprograms. The course typically introduces students to many entirely new concepts of continuummechanics, and often relies upon still-new calculus tools in order for the students to understand thetheory. With such a dense topic, most professors deliver this course in a traditional lecture-basedstructure. In our program throughout 7 partner universities, this first course in thermodynamcs has areputation for being the “weed-out” course for students.In the fall of 2013, the author took an established course having 6 or 7 lab experiments, a populartextbook, a well-evolved syllabus, and overturned the motivational structure to create a “new” course.The “thermofluids 1” course became the 7-mission “hunt for energy and power”. The same textbookwas used in the new delivery model as had been used previously; the same laboratory experiments wereundertaken by students, but students had a different approcah to the workload.Throughout the course, students proceeded at their own pace, and completed 7 “missions”, each with 5levels of performance. The first 3 levels were successively more complex analytical problems. The 4thlevel was a lab report based on a moderately challenging lab experiment, and the 5th level was anopportunity for the student to develop a concept based on the content of the earlier lab experiment. Theconcept of “Design” was built into the course in a limited, but content-rich mode through havingstudents each propose, conduct, and report on an improved development or experiment. In the paper,the author will present the results of this attempt at “gamifying” a thermodynamics course, and willillustrate one model for bringing student directed, limited-scope, design projects into a heavy content-based course.
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