June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Design in Engineering Education
15.1012.1 - 15.1012.21
Rapid Manufacturing of a Hands-on Learning Device
Recent efforts to interest K-12 students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) have increasingly focused on experiential education. With experiential education, young students have the opportunity to learn by doing in-class experiments. The goal of the Western Michigan University (WMU) student team was to design and construct an apparatus to be used in a K-12 classroom that properly displays the properties of light as they occur in nature. The reflection, refraction, transmittance and absorption properties of light are recurrently shown in textbooks as if they occur individually, while in reality they occur simultaneously. Based on the expressed need of a local middle school teacher for such a device, the team drafted designs as an assignment in an entry-level freshman engineering course. After one design was decided upon, the device itself was produced, and given to the teacher for testing and feedback.
Based on feedback from the teacher, the WMU student team modified the original design to increase the efficiency of in-class use of the device. After constructing the hands-on model, the student team tested the device in a classroom setting. Lesson plans and pre- and post-experiment surveys were created in order to gain the necessary qualitative and quantitative data that would help determine if the devices were successful in effectively demonstrating the properties of light, while keeping the middle school students interested in the concepts behind the experiment. After deeming the device successful, the student team decided to investigate the feasibility of large- scale production. Based on advice from faculty mentors, the team began research into the method of rapid prototyping as a means of production. Rapid prototyping was selected because of the guaranteed tolerances and the efficient manner in which multiple hands-on models could be produced. The team received funds from the Michigan Space Grant Consortium which were used to finance the production of this project. The devices were tested against the original design specifications to evaluate the practicality of rapid prototyping as a method of producing enough devices to outfit a classroom.
The demand for science, technology, engineering, and mathematical (STEM) occupations has been increasing, which means those interested in pursuing STEM related careers needs to be increasing as well. Many adolescents dream that when they grow up they will be a firefighter, a chef, an athlete, a veterinarian, a singer/actor/actress/dancer, and some, a doctor or a nurse. There is little interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics at a young age. Many times, this is due to a lack of interest in these topics in school because young students think the topics are too hard and boring, or perhaps they are portrayed in an unappealing manner. Whatever the case, efforts to encourage the interest of STEM related topics at a young age are important so that more kids may grow up desiring STEM careers. Efforts to interest K-12 students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics can be achieved by focusing on experiential education. By promoting an atmosphere conducive to experiential education through the use of hands-on learning, students can learn by doing. Textbook learning can be
Warners, K., & Richmond, B., & Eaton, A., & Kline, A., & Aller, B., & Tsang, E. (2010, June), Rapid Manufacturing Of A Hands On Learning Device Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16527
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