A sophomore materials science course has been developed at Texas A&M University as part of a larger five course sequence through the support of the National Science Foundation. Texas A&M University is a member of the NSF sponsored Foundation Coalition. The courses were developed to include active and collaborative learning, application of technology, and integration as important components. Currently, a majority of departments within the College of Engineering (COE) at Texas A&M University have adopted the five-course sequence. During fall 99, the COE is teaching the materials course to 260 students or four sections of 70 students each.
As part of the development of the materials class, a series of experiments have been developed for use within the classroom. The experiments give the students an opportunity to experience hands-on activities. Several of the activities are done within the classroom, while others are performed in a separate laboratory building. The classes consist of two- 1 h 50 min. periods, and this time provides the opportunity to have the laboratory activities in class. The experiments encourage the development of teams and support various applications of materials science. The majority of students have very limited laboratory experience, and this course provides them an opportunity to develop some laboratory skills. Currently, we do seven experiments: 4-point bending, tensile test: metals and polymers, heat treatment, thermal conductivity, viscosity demonstration, and electrical components. In the paper and during the presentation, we will demonstrate several of the experiments and provide examples of student work. A detailed description of each experiment will be included in the paper.