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Work in Progress - Group Laboratory Experiment During Lecture in an Undergraduate Fluid Dynamics Class: Increasing Student Learning and Communication Skills

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Division for Experimentation & Lab-oriented Studies Technical Session 5

Tagged Division

Experimentation and Laboratory-Oriented Studies

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Paper Authors


Ryan Anderson Montana Engineering Education Research Center

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Dr. Anderson received a BS in Chemical Engineering and a BA in History from Bucknell University in 2007. He obtained a PhD in Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of British Columbia in 2012 before postdoctoral studies at City College of New York. He is currently an assistant professor at Montana State University.

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Tariq Akmal Washington State University

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Tariq Akmal is currently the Chair of the Department of Teaching & Learning at Washington State University. He has collaborated with engineering scholars on numerous projects, providing expertise in curriculum and instruction, learning, and K-12 schools.

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Phillip Himmer Montana State University

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Phillip Himmer received his B.S. in Physics at Washington State University and M.S. in physics at Montana State University. He obtained his PhD in engineering at Montana State University in the Electrical Engineering department. His PhD research focused on the design and fabrication of micro-optical electromechanical systems for aberration correction in imaging systems. As a postdoctoral researcher at Montana State University he worked with a group to develop focus control for an OCT system. Currently Dr. Himmer is the facility manager at the Montana Mircofabrication Facility and he continues to research novel materials, actuators and optics that may be used in the development of optical systems.

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Laboratory classes in engineering often occur toward the end of curriculum, excluding their benefits from the core class while it is being taught. Instead of a full laboratory, presentations and in-class demonstrations are often used to bring the concepts “to life.” This work presents an on-going effort to integrate a simple, group-based laboratory into an undergraduate chemical engineering fluid dynamics course. This implementation method was based on previous work where a brief demo was done in class at the end of the semester in Fall 2016. Student feedback via surveys indicated they needed more time, smaller groups, more preparation, and the lab to be introduced closer to when the topic was learned in class. Those improvements were all made here. The lab occurred during one 75-minute course period. The concept used milli-fluidic devices fabricated in-house with a gravity driven flow. A conical funnel and tubing were used to supply water flow driven via a height difference through the milli-fluidic devices. The devices had various channel designs including a straight channel, one with 14 90o bends, and one with 22 90o bends to study the equivalent length (frictional increase) of the bends. Groups of three (from 45 total students) were given a brief write-up in advance of the class period with a schematic of the setup, relating the equipment to the Mechanical Energy Balance, an equation they had learned in the previous weeks. During the course period, the groups had access to the various milli-fluidic devices, tubing, hose-clamps, collection jars, calipers, and a scale. Their task was to find the equivalent length of a 90o bend, based on their collected experimental data. They designed their own experiment during the class period to accomplish this task. Most tubing was cut to provide a water column (driving force) between 1.5 and 4 ft. Students collected water as it drained while recording the time, and the mass of water was determined with the scale. With this mass flow rate, students could analyze the system for the unknown equivalent lengths. A week after the in-class work, a question based on this experiment was included in Exam 1. Further, a brief report was required of each group 12 days after the in-class activity, worth 5% of the course grade. A survey in the Fall term of 2017 assessed students’ thoughts on this format versus a traditional lecture, and if they believe this helped their understanding. Based on questions asked of the instructor during the laboratory day, it appears many students gained insight by being able to generate numbers via an experiment related to equations previously applied only to textbook-type problems.

Anderson, R., & Akmal, T., & Himmer, P. (2018, June), Work in Progress - Group Laboratory Experiment During Lecture in an Undergraduate Fluid Dynamics Class: Increasing Student Learning and Communication Skills Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--31260

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