Here at CU Boulder we now have a team looking at the impact of the Flow Vis course from a variety of perspectives, supported by an NSF grant.

We are pursuing two approaches:

  1.  Are students in the FV course developing visual expertise? Dog show judges and bird watchers can almost instantly categorize the objects of their expertise. Are we training students to recognize fluid physics in a similar way? In collaboration with Prof. Tim Curran  we are developing a visual expertise training experiment. Preliminary results (n=6) demonstrated that subjects can improve their perception of fluid flows, sorting images into turbulent and laminar categories, after one session of error-driven training. These results have encouraged us to ramp up the complexity of the perception training. The eventual goal of this work is to create a reliable, valid measure that can gauge whether students of fluids are gaining visual expertise over the course of a semester of study. The question after that is how such visual expertise affects students perceptions and attitudes towards fluid flows.
  2. The other approach is more of a traditional mixed-method education research design to investigate student attitudes towards fluids. We are refining a partially validated survey instrument, the Fluids Perception Survey (FluPerS) that is administered to students before and after they take the Flow Vis course, a traditional Fluid Mechanics course, or a different control course. We have recorded interviews with students, and plan to analyze their work in an effort to get at how the FV course, or any technical course, changes student perceptions and attitudes towards the content. Preliminary work shows that a semester of making artistic images of fluid flows (for art’s sake) convinces students that fluids are more important to them as engineers and to society at large than an entire semester solving real-world quantitative fluids problems.

This work is in early stages. Ultimately, we hope to be able to replicate the impact of Flow Vis in other engineering disciplines, and across all of STEM. I’ve tried a couple of outright transfers into the realm of design courses: Perception of Design and Aesthetics in Design. Great courses, but not as powerful as Flow Vis; we need the answers from our research to inform the design of new curricula. In the end, can we demonstrate that art and aesthetics are valid motivations for doing science and engineering? Would incorporating art into engineering practice improve recruitment and retention of diverse students in engineering schools and the workforce? We are working on it.


Collaborators here at CU Boulder

Kate Goodman, PhD student in the ATLAS program. This is a large part of her thesis work. Goodman CV.

Garrison Vigil, Senior: Chemical & Biological Engineering

Prof. Tim Curran, Cognitive Psychology & Cognitive Neuroscience, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience

Prof. Noah Finkelstein, Physics Education Research, Department of Physics

Prof. Tiffany Ito, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience

Publications, Presentations and Posters

For more recent work, see Flow Vis posts in sidebar

Hertzberg, Jean, Tim Curran, and Katherine Goodman. “Measuring Visual Expertise in Fluid Dynamics. E7.00002.” Oral presentation presented at the APS -67th Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics, San Francisco, CA, November 23, 2014. Abstract. Powerpoint.

Katherine Goodman, Jean Hertzberg, Tim Curran, and Noah Finkelstein. “Expanding Perception through Flow Visualization: Helping Students See Fluid Dynamics Beyond the Classroom.” Poster presented at the 6th Annual Symposium on STEM Education, University of Colorado,  Boulder, September 29, 2014. Poster.

Katherine Goodman. “Encouraging the Transformative Experience in Engineering Education” Ph.D Preliminary Exam reading document.

Jean Hertzberg. “That Is Cool: The Nature Of Aesthetics in Fluid Physics.” In Bulletin of the American Physical Society, 58:, Number 18:164–65. Pittsburgh, PA, 2013. This is an abbreviated version of my talk “Beauty, Power, Destruction and Oddness: the Aesthetics of Flow Visualization”.

Jean Hertzberg. “Becoming an Engineering Education Researcher.” Presented at the ATLAS Graduate Seminar, University of Colorado,  Boulder, October 3, 2014. Notes PDF.

Jean Hertzberg, Bailey Leppek, and Kara Gray. “Art for the sake of improving attitudes toward engineering. AC 2012-5064.” In ASME Conference Proceedings. San Antonio, TX., 2012.

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