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“More Than Science Fair Fun: Poster Session As An Experiential Learning Activity In The Classroom”

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

NEW Lab Experiments in Materials Science

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1485.1 - 10.1485.10



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Paper Authors

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Mary Vollaro

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

More than Science Fair Fun: Poster Session as an Experiential Learning Activity in the Classroom

Mary B. Vollaro, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering, Western New England College, Springfield, MA 01119

Poster sessions are a common activity at technical conferences, offering authors an opportunity to present their work in this medium and easily establish a dialogue with their colleagues. Students entering college often have a perception that ‘posters’ were an activity they left behind at the junior- high or high school science fair. This experiential learning activity re-introduces posters and the poster session as an important and effective way to communicate technical information. A ‘simulated’ technical conference poster session has been developed and implemented as a required class activity within the one-semester, basic Materials Science course. In order to maximize the benefit to the students and achieve the environment necessary for this learning activity, the logistics for the poster session will be outlined. Assessment of the ‘poster session’ will be presented from both the instructor and student’s point of view. To date, the qualitative assessment results show students have a positive opinion on this activity and a better ‘understanding’ of this presentation medium for technical communication. Assessment by the instructor is highlighted by observations of ‘students- teaching- students’ and the student’s ability to use the ‘language of materials science’ in both the written information on their posters and in the oral dialogue with their peers about their selected applications or topics.

I. Introduction For the past eight years, the ‘Annual Materials Science Poster Session’ has been effectively integrated into and is a required part of the ME309 Materials Science course at Western New England College (WNEC). The course introduces the fundamental concepts of materials science and engineering. The primary outcome of this course is to have the students to understand the relationship between structure, properties, and processing of materials having applications in mechanical engineering and design. An introduction to the ‘language of materials science’ is key to understanding and utilizing the concepts presented. The analysis of mechanical and physical properties, the manufacturing process, the material specifications for a selected application or component, and the advantages and limitations of selected material are the focus of the project and a technical poster presentation.

From the point of view of an engineering educator, the “Annual Materials Science Poster Session” is a learner-centered activity, which is defined as ‘an activity which provides creative experiences for students with many different learning styles1,2. The students must demonstrate their knowledge of these concepts and an appreciation of the role and importance of material selection in product design through an independent literature investigation, comprised of a “Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2005, American Society for Engineering Education”

Vollaro, M. (2005, June), “More Than Science Fair Fun: Poster Session As An Experiential Learning Activity In The Classroom” Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14662

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