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Six Hands-on Activities Designed to Improve Student Achievement in and Attitude Towards Learning Fluid Mechanics

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Thermodynamics, Fluids, and Heat Transfer

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1159.1 - 25.1159.7



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Paper Authors


Lynn Albers North Carolina State University

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Lynn Albers received her B.S. in mathematics with a minor in music from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1992 and her M.S. in mechanical engineering with a concentration in nuclear engineering at Manhattan College in 1996. After working for Nortel Networks and the North Carolina Solar Center, Albers matriculated at North Carolina State University, where she is a Ph.D. candidate in mechanical engineering. Her dissertation spans the Colleges of Engineering and Education and will be the first of its kind at NCSU.

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Laura Bottomley North Carolina State University

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Laura J. Bottomley, Director, Women in Engineering and K-12 Outreach programs and Teaching Associate Professor, College of Engineering, North Carolina State University, received a B.S. in electrical engineering in 1984 and an M.S. in electrical engineering in 1985 from Virginia Tech. She received her Ph D. in electrical and computer engineering from North Carolina State University in 1992. Bottomley worked at AT&T Bell Laboratories as a member of technical staff in Transmission Systems from 1985 to 1987, during which time she worked in ISDN standards, including representing Bell Labs on an ANSI standards committee for physical layer ISDN standards. She received an Exceptional Contribution Award for her work during this time. After receiving her Ph D., Bottomley worked as a faculty member at Duke University and consulted with a number of companies, such as Lockheed Martin, IBM, and Ericsson. In 1997, she became a faculty member at NC State University and became the Director of Women in Engineering and K-12 Outreach. She has taught classes at the university from the freshman level to the graduate level and outside the university from the kindergarten level to the high school level. Bottomley has authored or co-authored more than 40 technical papers, including papers in such diverse journals as the IEEE Industry Applications Magazine and the Hungarian Journal of Telecommunications. She received the President's Award for Excellence in Mathematics, Science, and Engineering Mentoring program award in 1999 and individual award in 2007. She was recognized by the IEEE with an EAB Meritorious Achievement Award in Informal Education in 2009 and by the YWCA with an appointment to the Academy of Women for Science and Technology in 2008. Her program received the WEPAN Outstanding Women in Engineering Program Award in 2009. Her work was featured on the National Science Foundation Discoveries website. She is a member of Sigma Xi, Past Chair of the K-12 and Pre-college Division of the American Society of Engineering Educators and a Senior Member of the IEEE.

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Six Hands-On Activities Designed to Improve Student Achievement in and Attitude Towards Learning Fluid MechanicsAbstractSix, hands-on activities were designed to supplement an existing mechanical engineeringcurriculum for fluid mechanics with the goal of creating a new instructional method centeredaround activity based learning. Replacing lecture time with activity based learning positivelyaffects university students by reinforcing concepts learned during lecture, visually teaching newconcepts and providing an outlet where the students are free to interact more casually with theinstructor and their peers. Results of this are higher student achievement, a more thoroughunderstanding of the material and a more positive attitude towards learningThis paper first describes the hands-on activities, which were designed to help the student graspthe concepts and improve the overall learning experience. The four activities titled RainbowLayer Cake ©, Marshmallow Madness (Control Volume Analysis) ©, Twist and Turn (FluidFlow) ©, and Construction Function (Pipe Flow) © were original ideas developed for the classby the author. The activity, Foil Boat, Float, Float was an original idea created through theuniversity’s GK-12 Outreach Program and modified for use in the junior level class. Sink orSwim (Bowling Balls and Soda Cans in Water) was a demonstration borrowed from the physicsdepartment and augmented with a worksheet.To assess whether the activities resulted in higher student achievement, a control group andexperimental group were created. Students in the experimental group performed the activitieswhile students in the control group did not. Both groups received the same assessments and acomparison of exam scores was performed to assess the impact on student achievement. Theseresults and a statistical analysis are presented in this paper. In addition, students in theexperimental group were given a survey assessing their perception of how helpful the activitieswere in learning fluid mechanics and math. The results of the survey are also presented in thispaper.

Albers, L., & Bottomley, L. (2012, June), Six Hands-on Activities Designed to Improve Student Achievement in and Attitude Towards Learning Fluid Mechanics Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21916

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