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Developing In-Class Experiments for Fluid and Thermal Science Courses for Technology Students

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies: Classroom and Online Innovations

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

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Paper Authors


Robert Edwards Pennsylvania State University - Erie

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Bob Edwards is a Lecturer of Engineering at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, teaching in the Mechanical Engineering Technology department. He has a Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering from Rochester Institute of Technology and a Masters in Engineering from Gannon University. His primary area of interest is in the thermal sciences. He teaches thermodynamics, heat transfer and a thermal sciences course for Electrical Engineering Technology students. He has also taught a wide array of other courses including statics, dynamics, economics and basic electrical engineering for Mechanical Engineering Technology students.

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Liyong Sun Pennsylvania State University - Erie

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Dr. Liyong Sun is an assistant professor of engineering at Penn State Behrend. He received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Minnesota.

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Many Engineering Technology students at XXXX tend to struggle with some of the basic concepts in courses in fluid and thermal sciences. According to much of the research it is helpful to have something visual to reinforce classroom lectures. Typically there are separate lab components to these courses with attempt to reinforce the class work, but they do not always address the core concepts that the students are struggling with.

A project is underway at XXXX to develop a group of simple exercises for use in a classroom setting which bridge the gap between traditional lectures and the accompanying laboratory experiences. They are intended to last the length of a lecture period, and will not just demonstrate but also help teach the core principle involved. They will use a guided inquiry approach to challenge student misconceptions, and to promote deeper understanding through qualitative reasoning. Currently the project is in the early stages. Initially there will be eight exercises which will be used in four different courses – MET courses in Thermodynamics, Heat Transfer and Fluid Power, and Fluid and Thermal Sciences for Electrical Engineering Technology. This initial group of eight will address basic concepts related to the first law of thermodynamics for closed systems (2 exercises), first law of thermodynamics for open systems, fins, fan sizing, pressure in a fluid column, viscosity and Bernoulli’s equation. They are currently in different phases of development. Half of them (first law for closed systems, first law for open systems, fan sizing and pressure in a fluid column) have some hardware already built and tested, and are waiting for procedures to be written followed by classroom trial. The others are in the concept and hardware design stages. The plan is to have all eight ready for fall of 2016.

This paper addresses several aspects of the project. First, the guided inquiry approach in general is discussed. Then, our plan of how to apply this approach in a classroom setting is laid out with some discussion of lessons learned from using similar but longer exercises in a lab setting. Finally, we give examples of the type of hardware that will be used and the type of worksheets that could be used in concert with the hardware.

Edwards, R., & Sun, L. (2016, June), Developing In-Class Experiments for Fluid and Thermal Science Courses for Technology Students Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26763

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