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Poster: Engaging K 12 Students In Engineering Design Of Cooling Systems For Electronics

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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

Think Outside the Box! K-12 Engineering Curriculum

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.961.1 - 15.961.11



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Paper Authors


Courtney Bonuccelli Washington State University

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Courtney Bonuccelli is currently a doctoral student at Washington State University in Pullman, Washington. She received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho and M.S. in Chemical Engineering from Washington State University. While earning her undergraduate and graduate degrees she also spent six years in the defense and aerospace thermal management industry as a research engineer. In addition to industry and research, Courtney is a second year NSF Graduate STEM Fellow in K-12 Education for the Culturally Relevant Engineering Applications in Mathematics (CREAM) project at Washington State University.

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Denny Davis Washington State University

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Denny Davis is professor of Bioengineering and co-director of the Engineering Education Research Center at Washington State University. He is also project director for the NSF-funded Culturally Relevant Engineering Applications in Mathematics (CREAM) project.

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

Poster: Engaging K-12 Students in Engineering Design of Cooling Systems for Electronics Abstract Successful lessons in the K-12 mathematics and science classroom incorporate hands-on testing, creative design, and relevance to real life. Consider the notorious question asked by a student to a teacher: “When am I ever going to use this?” Because students are naturally inquisitive, everyone benefits when we constructively use this trait in the learning environment and help students to answer their own questions. The purpose of this paper is to describe a lesson that engages high school mathematics and science students in an interactive relevant engineering design problem.

As part of the CREAM (Culturally Relevant Engineering Applications in Mathematics) program at Washington State University, graduate students developed a lesson that reveals science and mathematics principles used to address energy dissipation problems important in our technology-based world. The dissipation of heat generated by electronic components has become a major challenge as technology becomes increasingly compact. Systems require solutions beyond air cooling. Top performance requires liquid cooling and optimizing the liquid-solid interactions that remove heat from surfaces of electronic components. In research, combining a mechanically roughened surface with a molecularly applied surface coating and an efficient liquid, heat removal can be significantly increased.

A three-day lesson was developed to provide a series of activities where students could explore material properties, liquid-solid interactions, heat dissipation, and responsible engineering design. The activities advance students from being observers to being innovators as they grow their understanding of material properties and engineering design. The goal was to allow students, through the classroom experiences, to validate that design improvements can increase heat dissipation. Students learn that carefully engineered modifications result in smaller, cheaper, and more reliable personal electronics. They also see that understanding the concept of surface coating has additional relevant applications.

The lesson begins by posing the question: “Can a liquid be stacked on a flat surface that has no edges?” To explore this question, students use rulers, pipettes, and electronic balances to quantify the amount of a liquid that can be stacked on a flat surface. From data collected, students determine areas, masses, and volumes, and they generate a series of bar and scatter plots to describe their results. Students are given opportunities to discuss observed and inferred differences among the different liquids and surfaces to identify and deepen understanding of surface tension principles exhibited by their experiments. On the third day, students are challenged to create their own custom liquid-solid design that will hold the most fluid for the least cost. They apply the data they collected and discussions from the previous two days to guide their design. From this series of activities, students learn about fluid properties, liquid-solid interactions, and cost versus performance design choices.

This paper describes a current engineering problem, provides details of the activities, and presents evidence for impacts on high school students. Students’ attitudes about mathematics and science are revealed, as are their confidence related to doing mathematics and science. Data also

Bonuccelli, C., & Davis, D. (2010, June), Poster: Engaging K 12 Students In Engineering Design Of Cooling Systems For Electronics Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16625

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