June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
15.828.1 - 15.828.7
K’NEXing Models to Examples in Engineering Mechanics Abstract
The transition from Statics to Dynamics is often difficult for students, especially in their sophomore year. Where previously everything was stationary, now the possibility of movement enters into the analysis process. This can be challenging, particularly for visual learners, when asked to evaluate motion using only a two-dimensional, static picture or diagram. The use of informal models and in-class activities have been employed by the authors on a continual basis in the combined statics and dynamics course, and while the statics portion traditionally progresses smoothly, students often comment that it is difficult to understand the motion for the dynamics portion, even with models used in class.
Endeavoring to improve student visualization, and building off of the idea that teaching a concept will further strengthen ones understanding of the material, the engineering mechanics faculty incorporated a student project to create a K’NEX model which demonstrates kinematic principles presented in class. Students not only had to design a physical model, but also had to include a worksheet with a problem statement, an associated diagram of the model, and a complete solution page.
The original intent of the project was to deepen the students understanding and to reinforce the concepts of kinematic motions – Translation, Rotation, Rotation About a Fixed Axis, and General Plane Motion. After two semesters of refining the project, the professors intend to incorporate previous semesters’ projects into in-class learning activities; each group of students (generally between four and six) will be given a model along with the worksheet and work through a solution for position, velocity or acceleration dependent on the question addressed in the problem statement. There are three classes devoted to these dynamics principles, and the instructors will incorporate a different in-class learning activity into each lesson. It is the authors’ goal to increase student comprehension of dynamic concepts by allowing them to do more than simply observe the motion (as was done for previous semester in-class activities); students will create the motion utilizing hands-on dynamic models which they will construct in class and then solve for the variables of kinematic motion.
Most engineering students are visual, sensing, active, sequential and inductive learners 1 while most teaching is verbal, intuitive, sequential and deductive 2. In an effort to change the teaching style to address the students preferred learning styles, the K’NEX projects and subsequent in- class worksheets address visual, sensing, active and inductive learning styles. To assess student learning, comparisons will be made of students with no model usage, students who created models but did not utilize the model/worksheet in-class activities, and those students who not only created, but also were exposed to hands-on activities using models during the dynamic lessons. Assessment of actual and perceived gains in topic comprehension will be performed via grade distributions on dynamics tests versus previous semesters, Likert surveys of students, student comments, and student self assessment of concept understanding versus previous semesters. Comments are summarized from two sections of students in Fall 2009 (70 students total), and exam averages compared Fall 2009 with four previous semesters.
Kunberger, T., & Csavina, K., & O'Neill, R. (2010, June), K’nexing Models To Examples In Engineering Mechanics Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16153
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