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Home Experiments In Mechanical Engineering

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.237.1 - 1.237.6



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Paper Authors

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Latif M. Jiji

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Benjamin Liaw

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Feridun Delale

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

“ .-. —_ .._ ,_. .—— .--—. ——— —.—. ——--—. — . . . . . . ——. —— . ..-.. —-— — .—. . . . Session 1626

Home Experiments in Mechanical Engineering

Latif M. Jiji, Feridun Delale and Benjamin Liaw The City College of The City University of New York

Abstract This paper describes 14 experiments in mechanical Engineering which students can perform at home using readily available supplies. The experiments are designed for integration with lecture courses in thermodynamics, fluid flow, heat transfer and solid mechanics. hey represent applications of theoretical concepts taught in mechanical engineering, In each experiment theoretical predictions are compared with experimentally obtained results. Although crude measuring techniques are used at home, comparison between theoretical and experimental results is usually satisfactory. A key feature of the experiments is that they are simple and easy to carry out, requiring approximately one hour to perform. Aside from enhancing students’ comprehension of theoretical concepts, they provide opportunities for hands-on experience-, encourage resourcefulness and raise questions about accuracy, approximations, assumptions and modeling. Experience with home experiment assignments at the City College has demonstrated their utility as an effective learning tool. In general students enjoy doing the experiments and view them as a welcomed departure from traditional assignments.

I. Introduction and Previous Studies The idea of performing hands-on experiments using simple, inexpensive and readily available supplies has long been adopted extensively in high school and college science courses [1-5]. The practice usually involves a careful coordination of experiments with theoretical pficiples central in the course. Its main goal is to addms the important question: “How to simplify, approximate and model a complicated, physical phenomenon into a theory and what is the error induced during the process of idealization?” Recently, this pedagogy has also been int.mchmd into engineering courses. Regan et al. [6] described four laboratory experiments using edible materials. In an attempt to construct an efficient curriculum, Giorgetti [7] combined theory and laboratory experiment into a single course on fluid mechanics. Dvorak [8] discussed integration of a simple experiment in heat transfer with analytical solution and computer simulation. More nxentl y, authors of this paper presented a new teaching methodology using home experiments [9]. Our approach integrates simple home experiments with lecture courses to develop interes~ understanding and appreciation for theory. In this paper fourteen home experiments that can be readily adopted into courses of thermodynamics, fluid flow, heat transfer and solid mechanics are presented. Feedback fmm student evaluation is also shown. The purpose of this project is to use home experiments to improve students’ comprehension in theoretical and laboratory courses. It is expected that significant learning will take place when students perform experiments at home. Carrying out the home+xpetient assignments is expected to help students translate what seem to be abstract theoretical concepts into physical nmlities.

IL Concept Description The simple experiment concept is distinguished by several important features. First, it addmses a broad segment of the undergraduate engineering curriculum affecting lecture cmrses in several disciplines. SeconcL it can be easily integrated with existing lecture courses and does not require curriculum changes. Third, it makes minimal demands on the instructor’s time. Fourth, it incnases students’ involvement and thereby increases their motivation to learn. Fifth, it trains students in the processes of Simplification appmxi.mation and modeling. Sixth, it creates an envimnrn ent which inspires innovation and improvisation. In our opinions, each experiment should be carefully selected to meet the following critical Rqq-mts: . -,,> ?@: 1996 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings ‘..:7?’:

Jiji, L. M., & Liaw, B., & Delale, F. (1996, June), Home Experiments In Mechanical Engineering Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia. 10.18260/1-2--6085

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