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Guided Discovery Modules for Statics

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

NSF Grantees' Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.684.1 - 25.684.11



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Paper Authors


Javier Angel Kypuros University of Texas, Pan American

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Javier Kypuros received a B.S.E. in mechanical engineering from Princeton University in 1996. He later received a M.S.E. and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering in 1998 and 2001 from the University of Texas, Austin. Kypuros began his career at the University of Texas, El Paso in 2001 and later joined the faculty at the University of Texas, Pan American (UTPA) in 2002. He is currently an Associate Professor and departmental ABET Coordinator. Kypuros received the UTPA Faculty Excellence Award for Teaching from the College of Engineering and Computer Science in 2012. His research interests include dynamic systems and controls, bond graphs, and vehicle systems.

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Martin William Knecht South Texas College


Constantine Tarawneh University of Texas, Pan American

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Constantine Tarawneh obtained a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Jordan, Amman in 1996 with a specialization in the thermal sciences area, and obtained M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln (UNL) in 1999 and 2003, respectively. Tarawneh joined the University of Texas, Pan American (UTPA) in 2003 and currently holds the rank of Associate Professor of mechanical engineering. Tarawneh received the UT System Board of Regents’ Outstanding Faculty Award in 2009 and six other departmental faculty outstanding teaching awards. Tarawneh serves the department as Graduate Program Director. Current expertise includes experimental heat transfer, thermal sciences, acoustics and vibrations, and railroad bearing research.

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Horacio Vasquez University of Texas, Pan American

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Robert D. Wrinkle Center for Survey Research

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A Guided Discovery Module for Free Body DiagramsStudents notoriously struggle to master the concept of free body diagrams. In Statics, forexample, they often fail to identify reaction forces, include nonexistent forces, and sketchdiagrams that are not in static equilibrium. Confusion arises in distinguishing internalfrom external loads and their impact on free body diagrams. This paper presents aGuided Discovery module designed to reinforce proper conception of free body diagramsby physically illustrating the consequences of not accounting for all the correct loads.Guided Discovery is a novel methodology that borrows aspects of challenge-basedinstruction and discovery learning. The method is designed to facilitate students’ paths todiscovery of key concepts that are often misinterpreted or not readily mastered. Themethod is optimized for short, in-class activities. It is a low-cost, active-learning methodintended to bring laboratory-like experiences into the classroom to improve conceptmastery and elucidate common misconceptions. The intent is to target concepts thatstudents commonly fail to master and that negatively impact learning outcomes in latercourses. The authors provide a brief overview of the methodology with illustrativeexamples and a summary of assessment results of former modules.The focus of this paper, however, is a new module that has been recently piloted inStatics courses. The module uses a variety of spheres (e.g. Ping-Pong balls, racket balls,baseballs, etc.) stacked in various orientations within cylinders (e.g. coffee cans,tennis/racket ball containers, etc.) of varying radius with and without a base (i.e. the baseis removed from some cylinders). The spheres are stacked in the cylinders to illustratestatically stable and unstable systems. Students are challenged to devise a staticallystable (unstable) system and prove its stability (instability) through proper use of freebody diagrams; they work in small teams to resolve the challenge. They must validatetheir analysis through experimentation and justify their conclusions to their peers. Theywork through several different scenarios where the cylinder diameter, sphere radius,cylinder mass, and sphere mass are varied. Using the cylinders and spheres, they canimmediately test their conclusions and determine if they made a mistake or used aninappropriate assumption. The module is designed to show how the lack of accountingfor a reaction force can readily render a false positive – a system that is seemingly stablebut in actuality is not. This paper details the design and implementation of this moduleand provides preliminary results that assess the efficacy and impact on concept mastery.

Kypuros, J. A., & Knecht, M. W., & Tarawneh, C., & Vasquez, H., & Wrinkle, R. D. (2012, June), Guided Discovery Modules for Statics Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21441

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