||Interactive simulations and visualizations enable students to explore abstract concepts in a hands-on, concrete way. Students can gain familiarity with trends in materials behavior and develop a more intuitive understanding of complex mechanisms or concepts by proactively exploring the effects of varying materials parameters or testing conditions. The NSF-funded nanoHUB, a premier engineering cyber-environment for learning and research in nanotechnology and related areas, hosts over 300 cloud-based simulation tools. Users access these tools, free of charge, using a standard web-browser, without the need to download or install any software.
This talk introduces three complete materials science educational packages, with clearly labeled learning objectives, that are available on nanoHUB. These packages employ simulations and contain everything that a student needs to learn. Video lectures introduce the concepts to be explored, step-by-step tutorials explain how to run the online simulations, and assignments are included.
Two of these packages are short learning modules designed for sophomore materials engineering students and have been regularly used at Purdue for several years. In the first learning module, students use molecular dynamics simulation to deform a metallic nanowire to understand the atomic-level mechanisms responsible for plastic deformation and compare the response of the nanoscale object with that of macroscopic polycrystalline tensile bars. The second learning module uses density functional theory for students to explore bonding and the development of the energy band structure in silicon.
In addition to these short learning modules, we will describe a complete 5-week graduate-level course, entitled “From Atoms to Materials”. This nanoHUB-U course starts from atomic level physics and builds up to macroscopic properties of materials. Simulations reinforce and develop the concepts taught in the lectures.
All materials for these courses are available in nanoHUB, and instructors are welcome to incorporate individual components or full sections in their own courses.