Hands-on laboratory experiments are known to improve student learning in engineering and science. In parallel, the Internet’s rise has created new and unprecedented opportunities for remote learning. Development of laboratory experiences completed remotely is the natural blending, extension, and evolution of these two educational phenomena.
We report creation of inexpensive Hands-On Learning Module (@HOLM™) fluid mechanics laboratory kits paired with an online undergraduate fluids mechanics course, which can be seamlessly inserted into any ABET-accredited baccalaureate mechanical engineering curriculum. The physical kit is small and inexpensive, enabling it to be shipped to a remote learner who then assembles each experiment, collects data, and performs analysis at his/her location. Kit experiments retain all the features, robustness, and rigor of full-scale brick-and-mortar laboratories.
Here, data collected from one laboratory kit beta-tested with junior and senior mechanical engineering students is used as an example. Analysis of both indirect and direct assessments indicates that learning outcomes are achieved to a very high level. The @HOLM™ approach is therefore demonstrated as a viable alternative to conventional brick-and-mortar teaching lab techniques now used by all accredited mechanical engineering Bachelor of Science programs.
This new approach provides the opportunity for mechanical engineering B.S. programs to offer their students rigorous hands-on fluid mechanics lab experiences without need or expense of maintaining physical laboratory spaces and equipment. Additional benefits of on-line instruction; including massively parallel instruction, asynchronous content delivery, and multimedia presentation to address a variety of learning styles; are also enabled by this new approach.
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