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From Pennies To The Internet: Tools Of The Trade

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.210.1 - 2.210.6

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Paper Authors

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Patricia Olesak

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Christine L. Corum

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

Session 3264

From Pennies to the Internet: Tools of the Trade

Christine Corum, Patricia Olesak Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

Abstract The various subjects associated with a materials course can be difficult for the students to learn and the instructor to teach. Over several semesters, we have found various teaching aids, ranging from the simple to the complex, that help us better explain topics in a materials course.

Our simplest tools use the well understood topic of U.S. money for explaining the reading of a micrometer, Hume-Rothery solubility rules, diffusion, dislocations, grains and grain boundaries. A slightly more complex tool would be computer software to help explain the development of phase diagrams from cooling curves, to reading a phase diagram and making appropriate calculations. Recently, we have expanded our tools to include the Internet from which we utilize several different movie clips to help explain crystal morphology, cold working and annealing of metals, electrochemical corrosion and the amorphous structure of glass. Our range of tools also comes with a range of price tags and availability.

Introduction Using examples of topics discussed in a material science course are often referred to as being similar to “lifting a cloud”. Real-life, easy to understand examples can help students learn and help teachers explain various subjects. Most students need an example in order to fully understand a topic. When a good example is applied, the student is able to “put all the pieces together”. They heard the explanation of the theoretical principle involved and wrote down pertinent facts but until an example is used, they may not fully understand the theoretical principle. There are many useful, practical and helpful examples available for use by the materials’ educator. Some examples are as simple as placing coins on an overhead and projecting the images, some are more sophisticated utilizing computer software or the internet.

US Money The simple illustration of placing coins on an overhead and projecting images can be quite useful for explaining many topics in a material science course. The Hume-Rothery solubility rules1 can be explained in this manner. Start by assuming one coin equals one atom. By stacking 25 pennies, a penny matrix can be made ( 2-D stacking of pennies; 5 pennies on a side). A penny measures 0.800 inch in diameter. The Hume-Rothery solubility rule states that the difference in size of atomic diameters of solvent and solute atoms should be less than 15%. The scenario for substituting for solvent atoms which are 0.800 inch diameter is shown below.

Olesak, P., & Corum, C. L. (1997, June), From Pennies To The Internet: Tools Of The Trade Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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