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FlowGo: An Educational Kit for Fluid Dynamics and Heat Transfer

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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

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering Division Poster Session: Works in Progress

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education Division

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Paper Authors


Dominic Guri Tufts University

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Dominic Guri is graduate student at Tufts University, in the mechanical engineering department. He is interested in robotics, estimation and control, and education.

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Merredith D. Portsmore Tufts University

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Dr. Merredith Portsmore is the Associate Director for Tufts Center for Engineering Education and Outreach ( Merredith received all four of her degrees from Tufts (B.A. English, B.S. Mechanical Engineering, M.A. Education, PhD in Engineering Education). Her research interests focus on how children engage in designing and constructing solutions to engineering design problems and evaluating students’ design artifacts. Her outreach work focuses on creating resources for K-12 educators to support engineering education in the classroom. She is also the founder of STOMP (, and (

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Vivian Zhong Tufts University

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Mechanical Engineering Undergraduate Student

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Erica Cherry Kemmerling Tufts University

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Erica Cherry Kemmerling holds a BS in physics and an MS and PhD in mechanical engineering from Stanford. She joined the Tufts mechanical engineering faculty in 2015 and runs the Tufts Body Flow Lab. Her research focuses on fluid flow and heat transfer in the human body.

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This paper presents the design of new hands-on educational hardware for exploring fluid mechanics and heat transfer concepts and preliminary data on how students understand these ideas. The authors have designed components such as tubes, junctions, and reservoirs that easily snap together via a modular, universal connector that allows students to manipulate fluids as well as visualize and measure flow and heat-related properties. The project aims to help middle-school-aged students learn fundamental fluid mechanics and heat transfer concepts in a hands-on play environment. With this kit, kids will build arbitrary flow rigs to solve fluid mechanics and heat transfer challenge problems. Using the FlowGo kit, they will also be able to conduct experiments and develop new design ideas to solve challenge problems such as building plant watering systems or modeling water and sewage reticulation. Similar kits (such as LEGO Robotics and Circuit kits) for other engineering fields, such as structural and electrical engineering, have resulted in pedagogical improvements, particularly in early engineering education, where visual demonstrations have a significant impact. The FlowGo project will expand on that research to show how this type of hands-on kit can enhance learning in the areas of fluid mechanics and heat transfer. The kit is designed to be suitable for classroom use in connection with the Middle School Next Generation Science Standards in Energy (MS-PS3-2. MS-PS3-3) and Engineering (MS-ETS1-1 through 1-4). A preliminary study, in an informal education setting, tasked 12 students with designing a plant watering system from a single reservoir. The paper will share qualitative video data about how student discussed issues related to flow rate and mass transfer and navigated design problems related to both concepts. Quantitative survey data related to usability and learning related conceptual areas such as energy, mass and heat flow will also be shared. The project is exploring new elements for the FlowGo system that will add to the conceptual base and will also be looking to scale to a classroom setting as well as other informal settings. FlowGo is open source and the paper will also discuss how other people can become involved in the next version of the toolkit.

Guri, D., & Portsmore, M. D., & Zhong, V., & Cherry Kemmerling, E. (2016, June), FlowGo: An Educational Kit for Fluid Dynamics and Heat Transfer Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26929

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