Welcome to my blog on teaching fluid mechanics. Each year I typically teach one or two sections of introductory fluid mechanics in the Glenn Department of Civil Engineering at Clemson University. The classes typically have between 40 and 90 students so maintaining the attention of the entire class can be a challenge. I do not claim to be an extraordinary teacher, and will not pontificate on the art of teaching fluid mechanics. Rather, the purpose of this blog is to share and discuss in class physical demonstrations that are (mostly) easy to conduct, require minimal equipment, and illustrate some interesting aspect of fluid mechanics. My goal is to add one new demonstration every few weeks. I maintain an index of all the demonstrations here. The goal of using demonstrations is to take a break from traditional lecturing and engage students in a different way. This works particularly well if the students have to do work as part of the demonstration. I often set up the demonstration and then have the students make some prediction. I use IClickers to collect information on their predictions and to ensure that they are actively engaged.
Classroom teaching is, at some level, a performance. This is particularly true when doing physical demonstrations in class. Having some back story to a given demonstration, having students participate in the demonstration, or having a surprising outcome can all add to the value of a demonstration. However, it is also important to analyze the results of a demonstration tie it back into the course content. Levitating a ping-pong ball above a hairdryer is a cute trick, but adds little to the class without quantitative analysis of why it happens. Each blog post will include a detailed description of the equipment, how to run the demonstration, and the theoretical calculations that can be used to explain the observed phenomena. I also occasionally show short videos in class either to motivate a given topic, or illustrate a given flow phenomena. Links to these videos and a discussion of how I use them will also be added. I will attempt to tag each post by class topic.
Please feel free to use and adapt any of the demonstrations in your class. I would really appreciate any feedback about how to improve the demonstrations. I would also appreciate suggestions for any new demonstrations that could be added to the blog. If you have any questions please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Finally, if you enjoy the blog and think that it is valuable then please let friends and colleagues know about it. I will tweet whenever I post a new demonstration so follow @nbkaye for news of updates.
Disclaimer: Many of the demonstrations I use have been developed by friends and colleagues. I will give credit when I am able to remember the source of the demonstration.