About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 6422-6427
Publication year: 2012
ISBN: 978-84-695-3491-5
ISSN: 2340-1117

Conference name: 4th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 2-4 July, 2012
Location: Barcelona, Spain


C. Romero, E. Martínez

Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (SPAIN)
Physics courses traditionally present rather low percentages of passed students. In the frame of the European Higher Education Area, some strategies can be adopted to help students develop the skills required to succeed in Physics subjects. According to the phenomenographic theory of learning through variation, learning occurs when an input parameter of a phenomenon is varied while the remaining parameters are kept constant. Thus, it could be surmised that any interactive simulation letting the user vary individually each of the parameters involved in the phenomenon depicted could improve student comprehension of physical phenomena, especially that of the most abstract ones. Indeed, the hypothesis of the present work is that the use of simulations as a teaching resource should motivate students and engage them in a deeper way in their learning process. Authors of this work created 15 original simulations with software GeoGebra 4 and use them to teach a course of fluid mechanics at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM). The 15 simulations were designed to cover all the important physical concepts of the course: Archimedes’ principle, vertical pressure variation, hydrostatic paradox, dams and sluice gates, continuity equation, Bernoulli’s principle, Venturi effect, pressure drop and Stokes’ law. The simulations consisted of geometric objects such as points, vectors, polygons and conic sections and included parameters that were allowed to freely vary within a range. Users could give particular values to these parameters in the sliders and input boxes provided and observe the extent to which the modification of these values impacted on the dependent variables of the model (e.g. pressure, velocity, discharge, manometer height difference). Teachers used the simulations in the classroom to illustrate the theoretical explanations, to produce a broad range of examples and even to solve exercises presented in previous-year exams. After its presentation in face-to-face lectures, simulations were uploaded on the University B-learning platform (Moodle UPM) and remained available to be accessed at anytime and anywhere. At the end of the course, students were asked to voluntarily complete a questionnaire about the usefulness of simulations in the teaching of fluid mechanics. Thirty out of the 40 students taking the course completed it. Students had to express how much they agreed with each of the statements of the questionnaire. Scores could vary from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). Statements “simulations are a good complement to theoretical explanations”, “it is easy to recognize the theoretical concepts that are illustrated in each simulation” and “simulations help me understand better and revise explained theoretical concepts” received, respectively, an average score of 4.57 (± 0.63, standard deviation), 4.40 (± 0.62) and 4.47 (± 0.68). Nonetheless, when asked whether simulations are a good complement to laboratory practicals, students expressed with an average score of 3.33 (± 1.21) that simulations should be used in combination with laboratory hands-on activities rather than in replacement of the latter. All in all, students see simulations as innovative teaching tools (4.47 ± 0.73) and appreciate the time teachers devote to its creation (4.50 ± 0.63).
author = {Romero, C. and Mart{\'{i}}nez, E.},
series = {4th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN12 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-695-3491-5},
issn = {2340-1117},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {2-4 July, 2012},
year = {2012},
pages = {6422-6427}}
AU - C. Romero AU - E. Martínez
SN - 978-84-695-3491-5/2340-1117
PY - 2012
Y1 - 2-4 July, 2012
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 4th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN12 Proceedings
SP - 6422
EP - 6427
ER -
C. Romero, E. Martínez (2012) SIMULATION-BASED TEACHING IN A COURSE OF FLUID MECHANICS, EDULEARN12 Proceedings, pp. 6422-6427.