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Fountains, Tunnels, and Planes: Flipping an Aerodynamics Class to Learn About Bernoulli’s Equation

In this flipped classroom model student read ahead of class, then class time is used to work in group to complete problems that are based on the reading.

By Dr. Jill Schmidt, Assistant Teaching Professor, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Missouri M&T

Aerodynamics I is a required core course for juniors in the Aerospace Engineering department. The class is taught in a standard lecture format, but for this year’s Active Learning Week I tried out a flipped classroom style. The class topic for the day was Bernoulli’s equation, and students were asked to read the relevant textbook section in advance and create a note sheet to use throughout the activity. During class, there was no formal lecture, and students were asked to get in groups of three to complete several problems that demonstrated how Bernoulli’s equation could be used for specific applications. During the hour and fifteen-minute class period, the groups worked through three Bernoulli’s equation problems, estimating pressures in the drinking fountain reservoirs in our building, manipulating and plotting a set of data from a low speed wind tunnel, and estimating airplane velocities from Pitot-static probe data. Students were active throughout the class period, moving around the building to collect data and using the computer labs to create plots. Groups turned in their solutions at the end of the class period and received feedback during the following lecture.