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The Use Of Sensors In The Engineering Classroom: Design Of An Educational Experiment

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.1303.1 - 9.1303.7

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Paper Authors

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Elizabeth A. Stephan

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Amy G. Yuhasz

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

Session 1526

The Benefit of Using Real-Time Sensors in the Engineering Classroom: Design of an Educational Experiment

Amy G. Yuhasz, Matthew W. Ohland, Elizabeth A. Stephan General Engineering, Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634


Clemson’s NSF-sponsored EXPerimental Engineering in Real-Time (EXPERT) project is investigating the effect of using real-time sensors on student learning of graphical representations of various physical concepts and auxiliary benefit in understanding the concept itself. The development of parallel laboratory activities (designed with and without the use of real-time sensors) is described briefly to provide context, but is more fully addressed elsewhere. This paper focuses on the challenges of designing the experimental protocol in a classroom environment. The design selected and implemented by the research team will be presented as a model.


Clemson’s EXPerimental Engineering in Real-Time program is a three-year project to develop materials to improve instruction in lower-level engineering courses. The objective is two-fold: (1) improve learning and (2) design techniques that will be implemented by instructors. A combination of in-class active learning exercises that use off-the-shelf easy-to-use electronic sensors in combination with the best of existing instructional formats will be developed.

This project proposed full development of real-time experiments as an approach to improving student understanding of the graphical representation of a variety of concepts. The project builds on successes by Physics educators (primarily with motion sensors) in combining the use of technology and hands-on engineering experiments to achieve visual analysis of phenomena in real-time in the classroom [1]. The approach was greatly expanded using a wide variety of inexpensive sensors that are easily interfaced with PCs, which allowed students to measure many different physical phenomena. This project has developed (and continues to develop) a series of modules in lecture/activity formats to facilitate incorporation of modules by faculty. In an implementation across multiple classes, the use of the modules developed holds promise for students to make connections between courses, improving curriculum integration.

Module Design and Examples The project deliverable will be a set of laboratory modules addressing a variety of topics. The basic approach of each module is as follows:

(1) describe a phenomenon of interest (2) select appropriate sensors (a wide variety are available)

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Stephan, E. A., & Yuhasz, A. G., & Ohland, M. (2004, June), The Use Of Sensors In The Engineering Classroom: Design Of An Educational Experiment Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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