- Area teachers spend summer in TTU engineering labs to help high school students
- To learn more about RETainUS and from teachers and faculty, watch this YouTube video.
- A Summer of Teaching, Learning / Teachers Get Into the Lab
Teacher ParticipantsJoe is a science teacher at Cookeville High School in Putnam County. His faculty mentor was Dr. Ying Zhang and together they researched the method and apparatus used for creep testing of ferritic-martensitic steel. This steel, with 9% chromium material, is thinner which helps reduce the fatigue associated with extreme heating and cooling associated with power generating plants. Joe compared the results of different testing methods to ascertain which apparatus would produce the most consistent results when performing a creep-rupture test.
The Legacy Cycle Joe developed from this work will ask students to research tests that are associated with metal creep, stress, and strain. Then the students will design tests to measure these qualities in a common household metal – aluminum foil. Finally, students will design a product that can be made from recycled aluminum and engineer the process for its recycling.
At least 8 of Tennessee State Standards will be met with this curriculum.Angela McCulley is a science teacher at White County High School. She worked with mentor Dr. Holly Stretz, Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at Tennessee Tech. Angela’s research concerned the procedure for successfully synthesizing nanorods with a high aspect ratio. Nanorods add strength when added to electrophoresis hydrogels for medical diagnostics.
The Legacy Cycle Angela developed will ask her students to choose among different brands of sunscreen. One criterion of comparison will be the nanoparticles of each brand. The students will design their own decision-making system for comparison and selection of the optimal sunscreen. With money provided by the grant, Angela is purchasing classroom equipment for hands-on demonstration of electrophoresis. Once the students have selected their sunscreen, they will create marketing materials on its properties and the reasons why consumers should buy it.
At least six Tennessee Curriculum Standards are met with this legacy module.
Josh Price is a Science teacher at Clay County High School in Celina, Tennessee. He mentored with Dr. Ying Zhang, Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering. Josh analyzed high-temperature coatings on the microstructure and composition of nickel-based superalloys. Specifically, his work concerned the pack cement method of applying diffusion coatings to metals to make them more heat and corrosion resistant.
The Legacy Cycle that Josh developed from his research posits a situation for his students in which they are FAA investigators called into the scene of an airliner crash. Their assignment is to research and analyze the type of metal used in the engine and research processes that will help those metals better withstand the high ambient temperatures of the engine. Elements of this curriculum are conducting an electroplating activity in the lab, and optionally presenting the results of their accident investigation at a science fair.
Josh’s legacy cycle meets 19 of the Tennessee Curriculum Standards Course Level Expectations and Checks for Understanding.
Bridget Pugh is a Science teacher at Monterey High School in Putnam County. She mentored with Dr. Holly Stretz, an Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at TTU. Bridget’s research with Dr. Stretz focused on polymer hydrogels which have many uses in the field of medical and bio-technology. The research question was: 1) How strong are the gels? and 2) Do gold nanoparticles affect specific properties of the gels? During her research, Bridget designed and had built an apparatus to better test tensile strength. This apparatus will be incorporated into her classroom legacy cycle.
This teacher developed two separate legacy cycles, one each for her physics and chemistry classrooms. Her physics students will be asked to determine the strength of several known polymers. The students must research polymers, methods of measurement, and design a means of measuring strength. The chemistry students are asked to identify products in their everyday lives that contain polymers and record the types. The students will utilize this information to invent and describe a new product that is currently not on the market that includes their polymer’s strengths.
These curricula meet many of the Tennessee State Curriculum Standards.
Virginia Mayfield participated in the “pilot” RET program in 2008 and found it to be so useful in her classroom that she applied to the 2009 program as well. Virginia teaches mathematics at Monterey High School in Putnam County. Dr. Kenneth Currie, Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering, mentored this teacher in researching a more “holistic” approach to cellular manufacturing. Virginia applied a bond energy and a genetic algorithm to determine a method of reducing part manufacturing costs based on shared part features and shared machines.
The Legacy Cycle derived from Virginia’s research asks the students to assume the job of an industrial engineer in charge of scheduling shipments for a motor manufacturer. The task is to calculate the composition of the shipment of two different types of motors to ensure the truck is filled to capacity. Two additional and increasingly complex challenge questions are built from this initial scenario.
Five Algebra II Curriculum Standards are met with this legacy cycle.
Robert Sircy is an in-service teacher completing his education degree at Tennessee Tech University. Robert was paired with mentor Dr. Cynthia Rice-York, an Assistant Professor in Chemical Engineering at Tennessee Tech University. His research concerned characteristics of membranes of fuel cells and how to reduce the amount of methanol that crosses the nafion membrane. Current methanol fuel cells are inefficient and if we can improve upon them, doors are opened to use fuel cells in many different conditions.
The Legacy Cycle that Robert developed from his fuel cell research places his students into a hypothetical R&D department of a large polymer production company, designing the optimal polymer for their client’s needs. The students will learn about fuel cells and manipulate their variables with a hands-on laboratory using miniature fuel cell cars. They will be asked to determine how many protons a Nafion membrane can hold, using multiple perspectives and approaches to the question. The students will have an opportunity to test their own membrane in the lab and will write a sales publication to advertise their product.
The classroom applications of this legacy cycle include chemical reactions, reaction rates, thermodynamics, and energy transfer.
Rachel Sparkman is a science teacher who mentored with Dr. Joseph Biernacki in the Chemical Engineering Dept at TTU. Rachel’s research was a chemical analysis using fast pyrolysis of biomass. This process evaluates its potential as a feed stock for production of bio-oil, with similar characteristics to crude petroleum. Preliminary results suggest the three main types of carbon compounds that make up fescue are cellulose, hemicelluloses, and lignin.
The Legacy Cycle that Rachel developed asks her students to imagine they are on an island with a boat that is out of fuel. They are tasked with finding a fuel source using only resources from the island. Students will be learning about combustion of carbon compounds, exploring heat, and alternate fuels. After selecting their fuel, the students must describe a method of harnessing the energy from the fuel source.
This classroom module meets most course level expectations, checks for understanding, and state performance indicators for physical science: 1) embedded technology and engineering and 2) matter.
Cynthia Stowers teaches mathematics at Clarkrange High School in Fentress County. Cynthia mentored with Dr. Cynthia Rice-York, an Assistant Professor in Chemical Engineering at Tech, on polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells.
Cynthia’s Legacy Cycle will use fuel cell technology to teach the complex number system. Her challenge for her students is, “What characteristics of fuel cells are measured by researchers in determining the efficiency of using fuel cells?” The main focus is the research and study of fuel cells, using real data to plot points on the complex plane, then to build a fuel car and race!
This curriculum module covers twelve course-level expectations, six state performance indicators, and twelve checks for understanding. The standards span mathematical processes, numbers, and operations and algebra.
Lynne Thurber is a science teacher at Cookeville High School in Putnam County. She mentored with Dr. Joseph Biernacki, a Professor of Chemical Engineering at Tennessee Tech. Her work analyzed the hydration of Portland cement, specifically the dynamics of the products calcium hydroxide and silicate. Studying the formation of these products is helpful in understanding the reaction mechanism and kinetics of cement hydration. Lynne’s research suggests that reacting solutions of Portland cement do not reach calcium hydroxide saturation levels, possibly due to an interfering process or reverse reactions. Other trials indicate that calcium hydroxide is not stable in the reaction vessel, possibly due to side reactions.
The Legacy Cycle that Lynne developed asks her students to imagine they have been hired to make concrete tiles for a countertop, with the requirements that the tiles are strong and attractive. She asks the students to determine how they will make the tiles and how they can determine the tiles’ strength. During this cycle, the students will participate in a hands-on lab, actually making concrete and pouring the mixture into molds to make tiles. The students will design a strength-testing method and carry out the test. Their tiles will then be judged for strength and appearance. This legacy cycle meets several course level expectations and checks for understanding in both physical world concepts and chemistry.