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Interactive Learning Tools: Animating Statics

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Improving Statics and Dynamics Classes

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.720.1 - 7.720.10



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Paper Authors

author page

Nancy Hubing

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

Main Menu Session 2368

Interactive Learning Tools: Animating Statics

Nancy Hubing, David B. Oglesby, Timothy A. Philpot, Vikas Yellamraju, Richard H. Hall, Ralph E. Flori

University of Missouri-Rolla


Computer-based modules for engineering instruction must be concise, flexible, educational and engaging in order to effectively supplement traditional classroom teaching tools. A computer example that takes more time than a chalkboard presentation is not likely to be useful in today’s engineering classroom. Flexible navigation is necessary so that the instructor can quickly and easily respond to student questions. Useful modules must also improve problem-solving skills or clarify troublesome concepts in order to be considered worthy of inclusion in the limited class time available. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, effective computer-based modules must meet the challenge of holding the student’s attention. This paper focuses on the development and improvement of computer-based interactive modules for statics instruction. The modules were created using an animation package (Flash ®) so that concepts such as sectioning of trusses and the generation of shear and moment diagrams can be presented in an intuitive and interactive manner. The modules are able to represent dynamic and abstract aspects of these concepts in a way that is not possible with traditional instructional tools. The paper also discusses the use of feedback from instructors and students to improve the interactivity and scope of the modules.

I. Introduction

Statics plays a foundational role in engineering education within many disciplines, including Mechanical, Aeronautical, Civil, Metallurgical, Geological and Mining Engineering. The subject builds on calculus and physics concepts involving vectors, systems of equations, equilibrium and integration, in order to solve new problems involving structures. The primary challenge to the statics instructor is to teach the correct application of just a few theoretical concepts. Hence, most statics instructors use many example problems in the classroom to demonstrate the correct application of the theory.

Statics is usually one of the first engineering courses taken, and thus provides an early introduction to engineering problem solving. Some statics students have difficulty visualizing structures and solution methods presented in traditional lectures. As an example, in analyzing a frame to find certain pin forces, the following steps might be performed: · Separate frame from its surroundings, draw the free body diagram

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Hubing, N. (2002, June), Interactive Learning Tools: Animating Statics Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10367

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