Fluids Classroom Innovations

Shape and Fluid Drag: an Experience with Just-in-time Learning

  • Debashish Burman (University of Wisconsin-Stout)


Just-in-time learning emphasizes an approach that tends to be learner-controlled, and relatively modular in nature. In an undergraduate course on Fluid Mechanics at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, students worked in small groups to learn about the essentials of form drag in a one-hour laboratory session. There was no prior lecture on this topic in class.

Based on observing the visualization of flow around a sphere, and analysis of the corresponding force measurements taken by them, students developed a working understanding of the nature of drag. They built upon this understanding by making informal predictions about the drag and flow corresponding to several other simple shapes, and tested out their hypotheses immediately in the lab.

The hands-on, learner-driven approach helped to build in the students a strong intuitive sense of how flows interact with different shapes. In the process, they were also exposed to a range of experimental methods in fluid mechanics, and the importance of relevant non-dimensional parameters from a utilitarian perspective.

From a pedagogical perspective, it was an interesting demonstration of the attributes of just-in-time learning: small groups of students with disparate strengths and interests worked together to understand a complex problem, and developed a refined sense of predictive ability by utilizing a broad range of tools and information bases.

How to Cite:

Burman, D., (2014) “Shape and Fluid Drag: an Experience with Just-in-time Learning”, 2014 ASEE North Midwest Section Conference 2014(1), 1-6. doi: https://doi.org/10.17077/aseenmw2014.1004

Rights: Copyright © 2014, Debashish Burman

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Published on
17 Oct 2014
Peer Reviewed