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K’nexing Models To Examples In Engineering Mechanics

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Simple Classroom Demonstrations for Mechanics

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Page Count


Page Numbers

15.828.1 - 15.828.7



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Paper Authors


Tanya Kunberger

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Dr. TANYA KUNBERGER is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental and Civil Engineering in the U.A. Whitaker School of Engineering at Florida Gulf Coast University. Dr. Kunberger received her B.C.E. and certificate in Geochemistry from the Georgia Institute of Technology and her M.S. and Ph.D. in Civil Engineering with a minor in Soil Science from North Carolina State University. Her area of specialization is geotechnical and geo-environmental engineering.

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Kristine Csavina

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Dr. KRISTINE CSAVINA is an Assistant Professor of Bioengineering in the U. A. Whitaker School of Engineering. She joined FGCU in August of 2007 after serving as Director of the SHRI-CORE Orthopedic Research Labs in Sun City West, Arizona, from 2005-2007. Dr. Csavina received a B.E. in Mechanical Engineering from University of Dayton and the Ph.D. in Bioengineering from Arizona State University. From 1992-1997 she worked at NASA Lewis Research Center in test engineering after her undergraduate degree before returning to graduate school to pursue a research area in biomechanics and motor control. She has research interests that range from motion analysis of human movement in orthopedics, physical therapy and rehabilitation to engineering education research in student learning, pedagogical approach, and K-12 outreach initiatives.

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Robert O'Neill

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

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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