University of Vigo (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN22 Proceedings
Publication year: 2022
Pages: 3784-3788
ISBN: 978-84-09-42484-9
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2022.0924
Conference name: 14th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2022
Location: Palma, Spain
University teaching is sometimes too focused on theoretical content that students learn but neither internalise nor consolidate. Obviously, there are also practical subjects, however, in most cases, these subjects become mere recipes that the student must follow step by step until reaching a predetermined final result.

Eólice, located at Campus da Auga building (Universidade de Vigo, Campus in Ourense city), is a small (200×36×20 cm) wave flume designed for educational purposes. In particular, the tank was conceived to teach university students the properties of water waves. The device, which was named after Eólice (Oeolyca in English), that was a minor deity of storm-generated wave-surges, consists of three parts along its length: a small chamber (~30 cm long), where a piston moves to produce waves; the main chamber where the waves propagate; and the last chamber (~35 cm long), designed to avoid wave reflection.

The design of the device serves to visualise some of the qualitative properties of the waves. On the one hand, the displacement of a piston constitutes the origin of the waves where the energy is transformed from kinetic and potential as they advance; and, on the other hand, waves can be freely reflected against solid walls, as it happens in harbours and cliffs. Furthermore, the setup is complemented by buoyant objects that can be used to show how linear waves transfer energy but not mass, as with a vibrating string. That is, the different parts do not move along the direction of propagation, but rather transfer the movement to nearby parts.

Different experiments have been designed related to the propagation of waves, the protection of the coasts and the generation of renewable energy so that the students of the different subjects of the degrees in Environmental Sciences and Aerospace Engineering can freely experiment with the properties of the waves, the possibility of converting their energy into electricity or the need to protect coastlines against extreme waves.

Apart from the qualitative component, which is essential to internalise how waves work, Eólice also allows quantitative measurements of wave parameters such as height, period or wavelength. Students can check the validity limits of linear theory, which is normally taught in undergraduate courses.

In summary, Eólice constitutes a small-scale laboratory for water waves, where students, with no other limitation than their own imagination, can experiment freely. The recently built device has already been used for several experiments (including a Final Year Project and a STEMBach) and is expected to reach further development in the coming years.
Wave flume, STEM education, University teaching.