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Sliding Along Downhill, Uphill, And Curved Segments: A Dynamical Simulation Exercise For A First Course In Physics Or Mechanics

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Conference

2005 Annual Conference

Location

Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education Poster Session

Page Count

8

Page Numbers

10.1120.1 - 10.1120.8

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/14630

Download Count

62

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Paper Authors

author page

David Ferruzza

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

Sliding along downhill, uphill, and curved segments: a dynamical simulation exercise for a first course in Physics or Mechanics David Ferruzza and Ilan Gravé Department of Physics and Engineering, Elizabethtown College

Abstract

In this paper we describe and review a specific simulation exercise in dynamics, developed at Elizabethtown College. It consists of simulating the dynamics of a manned sled along a number of downhill and uphill segments with different slopes, lengths, convexity/concavity and radii of curvature. Students are required to write the free body diagrams and to derive the kinematical equations of motion within each segment. Friction and air resistance are included. The non- uniformly accelerated motion is approximated by uniform acceleration within small path increments. The students (freshmen or sophomores) are requested to update the motion in a spreadsheet, while solutions with other software packages are assigned extra credit. Similarly, a variety of “what if” questions, some of them to be discovered, bring the students to critically analyze the results and find interesting solutions for specific initial or other conditions. We argue that this type of exercise/simulation, that requires students to intermix theoretical analysis with computer simulation and common-sense engineering data analysis, should become very important tools in physics and engineering. Such composite exercises do mimic in some sense “real-life” problems that graduating engineers find in their first job efforts, and do help prepare the students to the multifaceted requirements of graduate research. We analyze the performances and the attitudes of different classes and students to the sled problem and we report on a survey that reflects some of the students’ thoughts on such type of challenges and their usefulness.

Introduction

“The Sledder” is a simulation exercise in dynamics, developed at the Department of Physics and Engineering at Elizabethtown College. It was first offered in 1993 in the framework of a course in Statics, and more recently has been incorporated into first-year Physics courses. Students are asked to simulate the dynamics of a sled along a trajectory of downhill and uphill segments characterized by different slopes, lengths, convexity features and radii of curvature. Friction and air resistance are included. The first task required from the students is to draw the free-body diagrams (FDB) pertinent to each segment of the motion; then the students are required to derive the equations of motion within each segment. Next, the non-uniformly accelerated motion is approximated by uniform acceleration within small path increments. Finally, the students develop a spreadsheet application to update the motion. A reader-friendly summary of results is required, in addition to the full spreadsheet solution. The complete text of the exercise as handed out to students is included at the end of this paper.

“Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright @ 2005, American Society for Engineering Education”

Ferruzza, D. (2005, June), Sliding Along Downhill, Uphill, And Curved Segments: A Dynamical Simulation Exercise For A First Course In Physics Or Mechanics Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. https://peer.asee.org/14630

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