Developing in-class experiments for fluid and thermal science courses for technology students

Robert Edwards, Liyong Sun

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Many Engineering Technology students at Penn State Erie - The Behrend College tend to struggle with some of the basic concepts in courses in fluid and thermal sciences. According to much of the research it is helpful to have something visual to reinforce classroom lectures. Typically there are separate lab components to these courses with attempt to reinforce the class work, but they do not always address the core concepts that the students are struggling with. A project is underway at Penn State Erie to develop a group of simple exercises for use in a classroom setting which bridge the gap between traditional lectures and the accompanying laboratory experiences. They are intended to last the length of a lecture period, and will not just demonstrate but also help teach the core principle involved. They will use a guided inquiry approach to challenge student misconceptions, and to promote deeper understanding through qualitative reasoning. Currently the project is in the early stages. Initially there will be eight exercises which will be used in four different courses - MET courses in Thermodynamics, Heat Transfer and Fluid Power, and Fluid and Thermal Sciences for Electrical Engineering Technology. This initial group of eight will address basic concepts related to the first law of thermodynamics for closed systems (2 exercises), first law of thermodynamics for open systems, fins, fan sizing, pressure in a fluid column, viscosity and Bernoulli equation. They are currently in different phases of development. Half of them (first law for closed systems, first law for open systems, fan sizing and pressure in a fluid column) have some hardware already built and tested, and are waiting for procedures to be written followed by classroom trial. The others are in the concept and hardware design stages. The plan is to have all eight ready for fall of 2016. This paper addresses several aspects of the project. First, the guided inquiry approach in general is discussed. Then, our plan of how to apply this approach in a classroom setting is laid out with some discussion of lessons learned from using similar but longer exercises in a lab setting. Finally, we give examples of the type of hardware that will be used and the type of worksheets that could be used in concert with the hardware.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jun 26 2016
Event123rd ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - New Orleans, United States
Duration: Jun 26 2016Jun 29 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


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