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A Fluid Flow Characterization Device for an Educational Desktop Learning Module
ASME 2012 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition (2012)
  • Kirsten L. Peterson, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach
  • Marc D. Compere, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach
  • Yosef S. Allam, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach
  • Bernard J. Van Wie, Washington State University
This paper presents the design and testing of a fluid loss characterization device for use in engineering education as a classroom or laboratory demonstration in a core curriculum fluid dynamics course. The design is specifically tailored for clear demonstration of the abstract concept of fluid loss in a way that supports collaborative, hands-on, active, and problem-based learning.

This stand-alone device is intended as a prototype for a Desktop Learning Module (DLM) cartridge. The DLM module framework was developed by engineering educators at Washington State University as part of a collaborative NSF-sponsored program. The fluid loss characterization device was sponsored by the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Honors Program in Daytona Beach, Florida.

The purpose of the experiment is to have students determine the loss coefficients and friction factors of different piping components in a fluid flow system. The experiment involves measuring volumetric flowrate changes in the system due to the introduction of minor and major losses. A pump circulates water at a specified rate tunable by the students to achieve a steady state flow condition. Height sensors report tank heights and a flow meter shows volumetric flow rate which is verifiable with student’s data collection. A graphical computer interface allows students to control pump rate and also reports tank height in real time. The computer and height sensors are not critical to the learning objectives and may be replaced with rulers and a potentiometer for motor control.

The educational goals are for students to gain a better understanding of the transition between Bernoulli’s flow equation and the Energy equation, to study major and minor losses, and experimentally determine volumetric flowrate. Fluid flow loss concepts can be reinforced by experimentally verifying these concepts immediately after presenting them on the whiteboard.

Educational assessments measuring gains with pre- and post-tests and a conceptual test one week later were performed with a control group and experimental group. Results are presented that allow direct comparison between a hands-on activity versus conventional lecture-based instruction alone. The results indicate no statistically significant differences in gains between control and treatment groups; however the trend indicates improved ability to describe abstract concepts on the material 1 week later in the experiment group. The most promising results show that a greater percentage of students who were actively involved with the demonstration increased their scores from post- to conceptual assessment. This agrees with previously published results on CHAPL [1]. The majority of passive observers showed decreased scores. These results warrant more devices be built and tested to engage the entire class in the hands-on collaborative experiment.
  • Fluid dynamics
Publication Date
September 11, 2012
Houston, Texas, USA
Citation Information
Kirsten L. Peterson, Marc D. Compere, Yosef S. Allam and Bernard J. Van Wie. "A Fluid Flow Characterization Device for an Educational Desktop Learning Module" ASME 2012 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition (2012)
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