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Work in Progress: Hands-on Engineering Dynamics using Physical Models in Laboratory Sessions

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Hands-On in the Online Classroom

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Paper Authors


Mohammad Shafinul Haque Angelo State University

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Assistant Professor (Mechanical Engineering) at Angelo State University.

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Engineering Dynamics is one of the fundamental courses that most engineering students have to take in sophomore year. In Dynamics, students have to deal with theories and problems under motion and apply combined concepts from math and physics. Often student describes their struggle as “I don’t know where to start”. Topics including curvilinear motion, relative motion, angular motion, impact, impulse, conservation of force, and energy are difficult to comprehend for sophomores. Often the instructor has to provide a similar and simpler real-life example to help the student perceive the problem and move forward towards logical steps to the solution. Yet some concepts are difficult (if not impossible) to explain with a 2D image or verbal explanation. Research suggests that introducing hands-on problem solving may overcome this problem. Many instructors use custom made physical model that is not commercially available, often difficult to replicate and/or time-consuming. Commercially available models are easy to obtain. However, the textbook problems are not tailored to the models. Thus, a gap exists between the commercially available models and textbook problems, some modifications may be needed. A good solution would be to have a textbook that comes with physical models to demonstrate the problems and/or examples listed in the textbook, which is not available. This study aims to seek whether the use of hand-on problem solving (representing textbook problem) improves comprehension and retention in Dynamics? And how to bridge the gap between the textbook problems and commercially available models to be able to use it in the classroom?

Towards these goals, the author introduced multiple hands-on physical models in laboratory sessions to help students to visualize, observe, and fully comprehend a dynamics problem. In this study, three different commercially available models are used to facilitate experiential learning. A catapult is used for projectile motion, a rotating beam with mounted carriages to demonstrate angular motion, and a set of wands and rings to demonstrate the moment of inertia. Dynamics problems are developed around the physical models such that students explore, apply, and validate the concepts of the dynamic towards enhancing the learning experience. The students form a group of two to three per group. At the beginning of the lab sessions, the groups are provided with a physical model and a problem. The problems are similar to the textbook developed around the provided physical model. The student will observe the model, explore the problem, take measurements, collect data, realize why assumptions are made, and when they are valid and finally find a solution.

To facilitate in-depth assessment the course is divided into three learning modules. The 1st module consists of the kinematics of a Particle, and the 2nd module consists of the kinetics of a particle, and the 3rd module is consisting of rigid body motion. The assessment will be performed by surveying each of the three learning modules throughout the semester. An anonymous survey will be performed after each of the hands-on learning modules seeking students’ feedback and preference of hands-on learning compared to the traditional approach. The exam results and course evaluation will be compared with the past three semesters to measure improvement in passing rate.

Haque, M. S. (2021, July), Work in Progress: Hands-on Engineering Dynamics using Physical Models in Laboratory Sessions Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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