A follow up study on building connections between experiment, theory, and physical intuition in thermal systems

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This article describes a second implementation of a low-cost solar design project used for both a theory-based heat transfer class and an experimentation-based thermo-fluids lab class. The project was meant to reinforce conceptual understanding of heat transfer and also demonstrate the importance of experimental design for validating theoretical models. Based on lessons learned in the previous implementation, the current implementation included improved coordination between the two courses and increased communication of the project objectives to the students in both courses. Students displayed significant competence in their conceptual understanding of heat transfer, but they still struggled to perform thoughtful experimental design even though most students reported that they realized that experimentation and theoretical modeling were closely connected. In the next implementation of the project, we will make the connection between theoretical modeling and experimental design even more clear by having students turn in a proposed experimental design along with their theoretical model, coupling the experimental design to the theoretical model instead of coupling it to the data collection and analysis, as has been the case previously. Despite the challenges with experimental design, student feedback continued to indicate that the project was a valuable learning experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2011


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)

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