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Soap Casting Materials Education Activity

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Creating 'Materials' Awareness

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1283.1 - 12.1283.10



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Paper Authors


Craig Johnson Central Washington University Orcid 16x16

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Craig Johnson ("Dr. J.") is a professor at Central Washington University in Mechanical Engineering Technology. He is also a P.E. in Metallurgical Engineering and the Foundry Educational Foundation Key Professor. He has served the chairs in the ASEE Materials Division, and is currently representing CWU as a Technical Partner in an NSF ATE supporting Materials Technology Education.

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Beth Rogers Yakima Valley Community College

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Beth Rogers has a BS in Civil Engineering and MS in Engineering Technology with 20 years aerospace and electromechanical industrial experience. She is currently the director for Yakima Valley Community College pre-engineering and various certificate programs.

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OraLynn Manweller Smiths Aerospace Corporation

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OraLynn Manweller has a BS in Mechanical Engineering Technology. She works in hydraulics design and testing at Smiths Aerospace.

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

Soap Casting Materials Education Activity Abstract

This research originated from the principal author’s interest in casting process and an interest in materials education. A recent National Science Foundation ‘Advanced Technology Education Center’ in Materials Education (MatEd) has created a materials concept inventory (including heat transfer and phase changes), and requested activities to support these concepts. Fortuitously, Central Washington University offers an annual ACES (Aerospace, Construction, Engineering and Safety) summer weekend camp for girls. So an activity involving soap casting was developed and taught at the 2006 camp. The activity was supported by the NSF (MatEd) Program and was documented for use in their resource database.

An attractive feature of making soap is the use of glitter, colors and other additives resulting in a product the students take home. The activities’ engineering content involves tracking time and temperature during solidification. Students were asked to predict the relationship of temperature vs. inverse time before starting to cast. After making soap the student data was plotted, results were discussed and soap was compared.

In consultation with the Central Washington University Human Subjects Review Committee, assessment questions were delivered to the group verbally, and responses were privately recorded by the instructors. Students unanimously indicated that the relationship (T vs. 1/t) ought to be a ‘curve’. Results showed the linear relationship. Post-activity assessment showed a complete reversal from the student’s earlier prediction to support the linear relationship. Student comments indicated support for this activity as having an ‘engineering’ component as opposed to other just ‘fun’ camp activities.


This effort is directed at creating a meaningful engineering activity for middle school girls. The vehicle used for presentation was an established summer academy hosted by the university. As part of a continuing education and recruiting effort, the ACES Academy (Aviation, Construction, Engineering, & Safety) has been annual summer event at Central Washington University (CWU) starting in 2003. It is a long weekend event hosting a few dozen girls from around the state. The Academy, its mission, and a description of activities were previously presented at the ASEE 2005 Annual Conference1.

Another motivation for the effort was to generate data to support a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant directed at creating an Advanced Technology Education (ATE) Center in Materials Technology Education: the MatEd Program2(MatEd). Most NSF ATE Centers are ‘portals’: websites that redirect inquiries to other hosts (where the education activity information is retained). The principal author is a ‘Technical Partner’ on the MatEd Program and is concerned that primary education information be stored on and made available at the ATE website. An example of a portal is Merlot3, as opposed to primary education information available at the NDE

Johnson, C., & Rogers, B., & Manweller, O. (2007, June), Soap Casting Materials Education Activity Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2148

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