Design and Development of a Tactile Wind Tunnel for Educational Purposes [University of Alabama in Huntsville]
Keywords:Wind Tunnel, K-12 Education
The purpose of the Tabletop Wind Tunnel Capstone Project for Kindergarten through 12th grade (K-12) STEM Education is to design a wind tunnel for K-12 classroom demonstration by the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Student Section and North Alabama ASME Section. The wind tunnel is designed to be easily replicable in any nation, using readily available materials and manufacturing processes. The UAH Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) undergraduate student design team incorporated the NASA Systems Engineering Design Process to meet the requirements of the project customers and faculty advisor, as well as ensure the design process resulted in a high quality deliverable. The tabletop wind tunnel will be the 6th generation of wind tunnels within the MAE Product Realization Capstone Design Class. After rigorous analysis and testing, the design team has determined that the best design will utilize a square cross-section throughout the wind tunnel, a pull through fan system, and a sliding stinger in order to allow for an easy and tactile procedure for measurement of lift. The primary purpose of having a sliding stinger is that children as young as Kindergarten and 1st grade will be able to have hands-on interaction with a wind tunnel and peak their interest in the area of STEM education early in life. Additionally, middle school and high school students will be able to evaluate the flow streamlines via tufts on the airfoil in order to observe flow separation as the velocity and angle of attack are varied. The UAH team's process for designing the wind tunnel included not only detailed Computer Aided Design and Finite Element Analysis, but also hands-on testing with mock ups of the intended design to ensure a test section velocity above 20 miles per hour.
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