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Laboratory Development for Dynamic Systems Through the Use of Low Cost Materials and Toys

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Programming, Simulation, and Dynamic Modeling

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.839.1 - 24.839.14



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Paper Authors


Benjamin Reed Campbell Robert Morris University

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Ben Campbell holds a BS in physics and MS in electrical engineering from Penn State and a PhD in engineering from Robert Morris University. For the first decade of his career, he worked as a laser engineer at the Penn State Electro-Optics Center. In 2011 he joined Robert Morris University as an Assistant Professor of Engineering. He has been supporting RMU's biomedical engineering program and also teaching dynamics, circuits, and introduction to engineering. Since 2005, Dr. Campbell has served as faculty for the Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Sciences (a summer program at Carnegie Mellon) and currently sits on the Board of Directors for the PGSS Campaign, a nonprofit that is responsible for raising the funds to finance and sustain the program.

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Luis E. Monterrubio Robert Morris University Orcid 16x16

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Aug 2013 - Present
Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering
Robert Morris University

June 2010-Aug 2013
Postdoctoral Fellow
University of California, San Diego
Structural Engineering Department

Ph.D. - Mechanical Engineering - (University of Waikato, New Zealand)
M.A.Sc. - Mechanical Engineering - (University of Victoria, Canada)
B.E. - Mechanical Engineering - (Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico)

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Tony Lee Kerzmann Robert Morris University Orcid 16x16

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Tony Kerzmann received both a Bachelor of Arts in Physics from Duquesne University and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh in 2004. After graduating, Tony Kerzmann enrolled in graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh where he graduated with a Master in Science and a Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering, in 2007 and 2010, respectively. Currently, he is an assistant professor at Robert Morris University, where his research goals include, hybrid concentrating photovoltaic systems, energy system life cycle assessment, sustainable product development, and active learning.

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Laboratory Development for Dynamic Systems Through the Use of Low Cost Materials and ToysAbstractIn an effort to provide students with a hands-on learning experience while demonstratingdynamic systems concepts, the authors have developed several laboratory activities. The goal ofthese laboratories is to engage students in an active learning exercise that employs higher levelthinking skills to integrate multiple course concepts. The laboratories are focused on inducing theanalysis, synthesis and evaluation levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Each laboratory was designedwith low cost materials that are readily available at most hardware and toy stores. The labs wereintentionally created to be easy to implement for undergraduate or high school physics anddynamics. Using children’s toys also provides a psychological effect to make the experimentsless intimidating for students struggling with dynamics concepts by adding an element of fun.All measurements for data collection can be made with a tape measure and scale. Time valuesare not recorded, but can be calculated and verified if precise timing equipment is available. Foran added degree of complexity, students were given the optional challenge to use smart phonesto record the motion of an object and use frame analysis to extract position, velocity andacceleration data. The labs explore the topics of position, velocity, acceleration, circular motion,force, momentum, elasticity, and more. The result is a simple and cost-effective set of dynamicslaboratory activities which would be easy for other engineering programs to introduce into acurriculum or use for educational outreach events. One of the main advantages of the proposedlaboratory activities is its portability.

Campbell, B. R., & Monterrubio, L. E., & Kerzmann, T. L. (2014, June), Laboratory Development for Dynamic Systems Through the Use of Low Cost Materials and Toys Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20730

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