Thursday, July 30, 2009

Week 5 Reflection

This week we finished all of the manufacturing and testing of our specimens. We are in the process of analyzing our data from the buckling tests we preformed on our specimens. We tested four different criteria and it has been a little confusing as to what we are looking for in our data. Some parts are clear and others are required more data manipulation and a little creativity. During these past few weeks we started out by building sandwich structures with various gaps between the aluminum and foam components, simulating defects in adhesion during the manufacturing process. Now that we have the data we’re trying to see what it all means. I think a better way to have done this project would have been to develop a working hypothesis in the beginning, construct our specimens based on our hypothesis, and see if the data supports our ideas. At this point we’re trying to find out what the data means, in essence, forming a hypothesis based on our current data. This backwards way of experimenting has made the last set of data analysis and construction of our poster more challenging than it needed to be. With an initial set of goals upfront, this project could have been more productive.


1 comment:

motorcyclepeter said...

Who you are: Peter Seekamp

Where and what you teach: Science (chemistry for the last 8 years) and math at Woodstock Day School, Woodstock, NY

Lab/faculty member working with: UMass Lowell Center for High-rate Nanomanufacturing, Dr. Carol Barry.

Note the project you are working on: Evaluating the
effect of polymer substrate type on transfer of polyaniline.

What has been going on 5th week of program: Monday was back on the DSA for water-drop analysis on our latest sample: nylon. We also recorded some images that will be useful in the classroom (and for Raph's lesson). Tuesday was template assembly in the am and thermoforming in the pm. We bracketed nylon and zeroed-in on the optimum conditions for this latest polymer - great sucess! Wednesday was all about the DMA (dynamic mechanical analysis) machine. It analyzes the samples for stress while changing the temperature up to the glassification or melting temperature. The machine pretty much runs itself once you prepare the samples (all dimensions must be exacting and input. Thursday was logging data and creating some graphs for data analysis in the am and a progress meeting with Carol Barry in the pm. I feel like I am a little behind in thinking about/working on my lesson plan this week. We are really trying to wrap up the data collection as we near the end of the program (yikes!).

What has been the most valuable aspect of the RET program to date? Getting into the lab and doing the hands-on work has been great in getting me immersed in nanotechnology and plastics. I feel confident bringing this experience into the classroom with some "expertise" in one particular area of this emerging field. The access to several new lesson plans is particularly valuable.

How is t his program similar to and/or different from other professional development you have participated in? The "marriage" of authentic experience and lesson development is fantastic. I love the freedom and creativity to take the experience in the lab and develop a working lesson plan out of it. The financial incentive and the materials grant are particularly unusual and greatly appreciated.