June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
26.909.1 - 26.909.9
Implementation of Very Low-Cost Fluids Experiments to Facilitate Transformation in Undergraduate Engineering ClassesEngineering students emerge from many courses with a surprising lack of understanding of coreconcepts. The use of hands-on, experiential learning through in class experiments is anattractive approach to enhance understanding and learning outcomes. Major obstacles to thewidespread implementation of student-centered experiments in engineering classrooms are thecost and complexity of the experimental equipment presently available. This study looks at theimplementation of low-cost Venturi nozzle and Pipe Flow experiments in large MechanicalEngineering classrooms as a means to overcome these obstacles.The hardware used is designed to be light-weight, portable, and low-cost, while employingeasily sourced, inexpensive components, to arrive at per-student costs of less than a textbook($50 – $100). While the focus of the first experiments presented here is on fluid mechanicsconcepts, the approach is believed to lay the groundwork for a template that can be expandedinto a variety of STEM courses.In this paper, we report on the implementation of Venturi Nozzle and Pipe Flow experiments, ina junior-level Mechanical Engineering class. The class includes both 42 local, on-site studentsat a cental campus location, as well as 60 distance students studying at two satellite campuslocations. Communication between the central campus classroom, where the course instructoris located and the two satellite classroom locations is via internet mediated audio and videochannels. Students were divided into two groups. One group included one section of studentsat the main campus and one satellite campus. Those students worked in groups of three or four,to perform the fluids experiments. Also those students were provided with the low-costhardware and a worksheet guiding them through the experiment. Open-ended play with thehardware was encouraged. A second group of students included a second section of studentsat the main campus and the second satellite campus. These students were presented the samematerial to learn in either a lecture (for on-site students at the main campus) or a worksheet ( forsatellite campus students)In the first experiment, students measured flow rates and pressures of both air and waterflowing through a Venturi nozzle to test the validity of the Bernoulli equation under variousconditions. In the second experiment, students measured flow rates and pressures of both airand water flowing through pipe sections and hardware to determine head losses as a function ofnondimensional fluid parameters.The efficacy of the hands-on experiments in promoting learning of key concepts was assessedvia several mechanisms. First, pre and post quizzes were given to all students before and aftereither they did the hands-on experiments or they attended the equivalent lecture. Second, theworksheets filled out by students who did the hands-on experiments were compared to thosewho only did an equivalent worksheet without and experiment. Finally, a number of studentswere interviewed about their perceptions..
Richards, C. D., & Meng, F. S., & Van Wie, B. J., & Golter, P. B., & Richards, R. F. (2015, June), Implementation of Very Low-cost Fluids Experiments to Facilitate Transformation in Undergraduate Engineering Classes Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24246
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