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Kinesthetic Structures

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Civil Engineering Teaching Part Two

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.830.1 - 13.830.9



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Paper Authors

author page

Kevin Dong California Polytechnic State University

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

Kinesthetic Structures


This paper describes how students are engaged in hands-on activities that reinforce complex engineering principles. In addition to utilizing chalk board examples for design and analysis problems, physical modeling, not necessarily traditional laboratory testing, is implemented to link engineering theory with building behavior. Students design, build, and learn how structures behave in three dimensions.


Five years ago, the author switched careers and from practice to academia. After teaching classes the traditional way, class lectures augmented with textbook homework, a program was developed to engage students in model building activities that encouraged creativity, promoted ownership in student learning, linked physical behavior to mathematical expressions, and hopefully better prepares students for engineering practice.1

Students in the college begin hands-on learning during their freshman year and this served as the impetus to link kinesthetic learning with lower level and upper level engineering courses. Students often list a junior level class as their favorite class because it incorporates model building projects into the curriculum. Students are often eager to work on these projects and are typically proud to show you what they have created. The goal was to capture this enthusiasm and pride of ownership when developing projects that excite students about structural engineering and marry engineering principles with physical behavior through the use of models. Additional challenges were to create assignments that;

could be economically constructed could be constructed in class or as short homework assignments presented learning outcomes that were applicable to our departmental mission addressed construct-ability or cost issues

It is common for schools to use physical models to demonstrate concrete beam behavior or steel beam behavior, but the focus of the activities is to create physical models that help describe structural behavior in 3D, construction sequencing, structural detailing, etc. An ancillary goal is to show how these issues are included in the design process, from architectural design to structural design, and that the thought process is not linear but all of these decisions are addressed simultaneously. The use of physical models has been a success in the classroom, students have become interested in the topics since the topics now have a relevancy they didn’t before, and students are beginning to see the creative side to structures that can be incorporated into their design projects.

Dong, K. (2008, June), Kinesthetic Structures Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3904

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