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Curriculum Exchange: Educational Aspects of Computational Modeling and Kinesthetic Experimentation

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Thinking Outside the Box! Innovative Curriculum Exchange for K12 Engineering

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.412.1 - 22.412.20



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Paper Authors


Blake C. Wade University of Texas, Arlington and Kennedale High School, Kennedale ISD

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Blake C. Wade is a chemistry teacher (general, pre-AP and AP) at Kennedale High School, Kennedale, Texas. He holds a Bachelor's of Science degree in Biology (2006) from Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas. His current research interests include the way in which technology and traditional teaching methods can be combined to pique students' scientific interests and how to engage the minority learner in the STEM fields. He enjoys spending time with his beautiful wife Stephanie and their four year old daughter Keeley. Wade is currently living in Arlington, Texas.


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Yvette Pearson Weatherton University of Texas, Arlington Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Yvette Pearson Weatherton received her Ph.D. in Engineering and Applied Science (Environmental Engineering) from the University of New Orleans in 2000. She is currently a Senior Lecturer in Civil Engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington. Dr. Pearson Weatherton’s expertise is in the areas of air quality – including monitoring and modeling – and engineering education. She is currently PI or Co-PI on a number of NSF-funded engineering education projects including “UTA RET Site for Hazard Mitigation”, which is the basis for this paper. She is a registered Professional Engineer in Louisiana.

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Melanie L. Sattler P.E. University of Texas, Arlington

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Educational Benefits of Computational Modeling and Kinesthetic Experimentation Educational theory and research has shown that kinesthetic experimentation andcomputational modeling have a significant influence on the way that students learn science,technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) material. This paper presents evidence thatstudents who have little or no prior knowledge of engineering are able to utilize computersimulations in conjunction with hands-on laboratory experimentation to stimulate theirunderstanding of engineering concepts. Students gain the experience of engineering early intheir high school careers, which may lead to a calling in the engineering field. Through a National Science Foundation (NSF) sponsored Research Experiences forTeachers (RET) program at the _______, several high school teachers worked with engineeringfaculty on research problems related to hazard mitigation. The project used for the workpresented here is entitled “Air Dispersion Modeling: Planning for Airborne Terrorism Releasesin ____.” The RET participants used AERMOD, a dispersion modeling software based uponGaussian dispersion principles, to predict the ambient concentrations of chlorine gas that wouldresult if released from sites near highly populated areas in ____. The releases were modeledbased upon a number of scenarios that the researchers deemed plausible for a terrorist attack.The research experience was used to develop a lesson plan for a high school chemistry course. Preliminary assessments (pre-survey and pre-test) were conducted to collect demographicdata, gauge the students’ knowledge of and interest in engineering and measure their knowledgeof concepts related to the lesson. The lesson plan was implemented in three phases: a lecturebased on the RET dispersion modeling project, a computer modeling lab during which studentsmodeled a chlorine gas release using AERMOD and a kinesthetic lab during which studentsperformed a microscale experiment involving the release of chlorine gas. In general, the students found that the engineering concepts learned through modeling achlorine gas release were realistic when compared to their observations in the microscalechlorine gas lab. Post-survey and post-test data show significant improvements in students’abilities to relate air dispersion modeling and the effects of a realistic gas release to engineeringconcepts after participating in both the computer simulation and kinesthetic laboratoryexperiment.

Wade, B. C., & Weatherton, Y. P., & Sattler, M. L. (2011, June), Curriculum Exchange: Educational Aspects of Computational Modeling and Kinesthetic Experimentation Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17693

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