June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
14.962.1 - 14.962.13
Practical Demonstration Units, Using Common Components, For An Introductory Thermodynamics Course
The enhancement of an introductory thermodynamics course, using devices constructed from common lab components, is presented and discussed. The devices were developed using spare parts and materials readily available to provide practical demonstrations in the classroom. The devices include: a simple water bottle rocket launcher used to demonstrate the conservation of mass; a space heater and plywood box used to demonstrate steady state heat transfer and energy conservation; and an air piston, accumulator, and compressor system for demonstrating boundary work. Specifications are presented with associated costs. Class exercises used with the demonstration units are described in detail. The demonstrations, with exercises, each require one hour of lecture, and were used in an accredited thermodynamics course. The course is scheduled for 2.5 lecture hours per week, with no lab, presenting an ideal venue for short demonstrations.
The US Coast Guard Academy’s three credit introductory thermodynamics course does not include a dedicated lab. The course is required of all students seeking mechanical, civil, or naval architecture and marine engineering degrees. Many electrical engineering and marine science students take the course as an elective. The need for a lab, along with the complexities of incorporating one into already crowded student schedules, was recently addressed in a local program review. The issue of balancing thermodynamic instruction and student course load is not unique to this institution . To account for the lack of lab time, the authors, who were new to teaching this course at this institution, endeavored to introduce hands on demonstrations during typical lectures. This resulted in the design, construction, and use of three stand alone demonstration units. The devices include: a simple water bottle rocket launcher used to demonstrate the conservation of mass and ideal gas law; a space heater and plywood box to demonstrate steady state heat transfer and the conservation of energy; and an air piston, accumulator, and compressor system for demonstrating boundary work.
Effective labs can be introduced without a significant cost increase. Professional lab kits may be expensive, with different units available commercially for thousands of dollars. This work focuses on low cost alternatives, a topic which has received attention in recent literature. Edwards presents a simple experiment using a hair dryer and thermocouples for demonstrating the first law . Volino and Smith introduce a low cost lab consisting of a simple dynamometer and small spark ignition engine, such as that which may be found on a lawnmower . Similar engines are also used at the Coast Guard Academy for introductory instruction on internal combustion engines and mechanisms. A variety of labs, some involving commonly found devices, and others using professionally designed units, may be found in . Alvarado encourages students to design their own experiments, presenting a recent example evaluating a refrigerator coefficient of performance . For many years students at the Coast Guard Academy
Plumley, M., & Foley, A., & Greene, E. (2009, June), Practical Demonstration Units, Using Common Components, For An Introductory Thermodynamics Course Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5474
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