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In this new series of blog posts, we will be presenting a series of extracts from the white paper, ‘Teaching Materials with CES EduPack’. This week, we look at how CES EduPack can provide self-learning opportunities to enhance materials education outside of the classroom.
A resource than can promote self-learning can help students to work out concepts that were not fully understood in class, aid revision, or explore beyond the syllabus. To do so, it must be engaging and easy to use.
Teaching Materials Not Teaching the Software
Courses are time-constrained and so educators would like to spend as little time as possible teaching students how to use software. CES EduPack is very easy and intuitive to use. Very little time needs to be spent introducing the software. There is a set of video tutorials that show students how to use all functionalities of CES EduPack and what is in the different databases. There is also a getting started guide, with simple exercises to build knowledge of each function.
Many students bring laptops, tablets, phones, or other devices in to lectures. They might be looking up vocabulary they don’t understand in Wikipedia or busy trying to finish that homework you set. With CES EduPack on their computers, they have the possibility to put lecture content in perspective, with quick access to reliable materials property descriptions for example.
Outside of lectures, students can use CES EduPack to learn about definitions, measurement techniques, and origins of materials properties in more detail, on demand,using the science notes. These effectively act as an interactive textbook within the software. Speakers of Spanish, French, German, or Japanese can learn the English translation for materials terms in the language glossaries contained in the Help Menu. In general, the Help Menu has a lot more than just software help, for example Solutions to Standard Engineering Problems, Case Studies, Performance Index Tables, and information on Selection Methodology also being available.
All available material properties are nicely compiled in the Limit stage and their range charts, where students can immediately see the actual ranges of value for different material properties of all families, the unit used for the property and a basic one or two word description – e.g., Young’s Modulus – Stiff or Flexible (see Figure 1).
Figure 1. Science Notes and Range Charts in the Limit Stage
Explore and understand
By offering the students the ability to access CES EduPack, you can help them satisfy their natural curiosity. They can plot any of the approximately 50 properties against each other and spot trends and relationships. This is especially useful in order to prevent misconceptions, such as the difference between stiffness and strength (see figure 2).
Figure 2. Specific Stiffness vs Specific Strength
Then of course there is the data itself. In Level 1 and Level 2, the records purposely have engaging pictures that tell the student something about their use, and if possible, also show a surface finish. The descriptions and supporting information sections have a wealth of information. A student is not likely to start reading datasheets from top to bottom, but using the search function in a full text search brings up interesting answers to many questions. A search for “age-hardening” in Level 2 takes a student to the Al-alloys record, where age-hardening is described (see Figure 3). If a student has a particular application in mind, they might also be tempted to find out what something is made of by making use of the typical uses section.
Figure 3. Search for the word ageing
In Level 3, even more text-based explanations and summaries are available and searchable. Most lower-level folders have a “Folder-Level Record” which includes high level information on a group of materials (see Figure 4). This is similar to what you might get in widely used Materials Science Textbooks that have chapters on Aluminum Alloys and Carbon Steels, etc.
Figure 4. Folder-level records with information on a materials class
There is a set of resources specifically designed for self-learning available via the help menu under the case studies button. The case studies take students through the problem definition, constraints and objectives, the model, the selection, and conclusions, in such a way that the student could follow along with software.