# A New Educational Thermodynamic Software to Promote Critical Thinking in Youth Engineering Students

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## Abstract

**:**

^{®}to promote critical thinking in youth engineering students, by means of the energy and entropy balance application in different systems. Statistics of the results obtained by the youth students are shown to determine the influence of the software in a regular course in thermodynamics to promote critical thinking. Two case studies were done by the students, where parameters such as temperature of the fluid and metal surfaces, pressure of the system, mass of the fluid and solid, volume, and velocity of the fluid are used to obtain output variables such as enthalpy, entropy, changes in entropy, entropy production, and energy transfer in the chosen system. Four cognitive skills were considered to evaluate the cognitive competencies of interpreting, arguing and proposing, and interacting with the different graphical user interfaces; these cognitive skills (CS) were argumentative claim (CS1), modeling (CS2), interpreting data/information (CS3), and organization (CS4). Student´s T-test was used to compare the degree of difficulty of each criterion. The case studies were evaluated first without using the software and then with the use of the software to determine the significant effect of the software quantitatively. A population of 130 youth students was taken to perform the statistical analysis with a level of significance of 5%. With the help of the software, the students obtained an improvement when performing case study 1 since the p-value obtained was 0.03, indicating that there are significant differences between the results before and after taking the software. The overall averages of the grades for case study 1 had an increase after using the software from 3.74 to 4.04. The overall averages for case study 2 were also higher after taking the software from 3.44 to 3.75.

## 1. Introduction

^{®}with the implementation of a graphical user interface. The computer program was evaluated with four cognitive skills, which are graph, document, graph-table, and analysis. The assessment of these cognitive skills was carried out under two case studies in undergraduate students of mechanical engineering in the class of thermodynamics at the Universidad del Atlántico, where 130 youth students run the software MOLECULARDISORDER. The selected case studies were heat transfer of a liquid with a metal bar in a container, and energy loss of stream in a pipe. Some student´s T-tests were used to compare the degree of difficulty of each criterion. The importance of the software was confirmed in the learning process due to the significant positive effect found in the T-test.

## 2. Material and Methods

#### 2.1. Critical Thinking Development

#### 2.2. General Aim of the GUI Algorithm

#### 2.3. Flowchart of the GUI

^{®}. The requirements of the system depend on the version of Matlab used. MOLECULARDISORDER can work on any Microsoft 32-bit or 64-bit Windows PC on which Matlab/Simulink is installed. Eight different case studies were coded, where the users can change the operating conditions depending on their needs. Figure 4 illustrates the main view of the program with three emerging windows, one of them shows the system that can be selected by the user (eight different case studies); the other two show the first and second case studies.

#### 2.4. Fundamental Equations

#### 2.4.1. Determination of Entropy in an Isolated Container

#### 2.4.2. Determination of Entropy Production in a Pipe with Saturated Steam

_{1}and S

_{2}are the entropies in the inlet and the outlet of the pipe, respectively. Then, it is proceeded to find the entropy change from the heat that is transferred by the wall of the tube, see Equation (4). This heat transfer causes the fluid to change from state 1 to state 2.

## 3. Results and Discussions

#### 3.1. Statistical Analysis

#### 3.2. Case Studies

#### 3.2.1. Heat Transfer of Liquid with a Metal Bar inside a Container

#### 3.2.2. Steam in a Pipeline

## 4. Conclusions

## Author Contributions

## Funding

## Conflicts of Interest

## Abbreviations

ICT | Information and communication technologies |

TEL | Technology-enhanced learning |

ABET | Accreditation board of engineering and technology |

DNDA | Dirección nacional de derechos de autor |

HSD | Honestly significant difference |

LSD | Least significant difference |

COP | Coefficient of performance |

CS | Cognitive skill |

UCL | Upper Control Limit |

LCL | Lower Control Limit |

SD | Standard Deviation |

Nomenclature: | |

${C}_{p}$ | Specific heat at constant pressure |

S | Entropy |

V | Velocity |

$h$ | Specific enthalpy |

$m$ | Mass |

$Q$ | Heat |

P | Pressure |

$T$ | Temperature |

$\dot{W}$ | Rate of heat transfer |

$A$ | Area |

Greek Letters | |

∆ | Delta |

Subscripts | |

$Rev$ | Reversible |

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**Figure 1.**Elements of the Critical Thinking theory involved in the MOLECULARDISORDER theoretical–practical guide.

**Figure 3.**Schematic of the two systems studied using the MOLECULARDISORDER software (

**a**) Heat transfer of liquid with a metal bar inside a container, (

**b**) steam in a pipeline, (

**c**) evaporator, (

**d**) container with electrical resistance.

**Figure 4.**Main view of the software MOLECULARDISORDER, (

**a**) welcome window; (

**b**) system selection; (

**c**) results of case 1, P1. (

**d**) Results of case 2, P2.

Cognitive Skills [32,33,34]/Element | Excellent (4.6 to 5.0) | Satisfactory (4.0 to 4.5) | Need Improvement (3.0 to 3.9) | Unsatisfactory (1.0 to 2.9) |
---|---|---|---|---|

CS1/Element 4 | It describes clearly the concepts of the problem with excellent details. | It describes the concepts of the problem with some critical details. | Ambiguous description of the concepts with some details that do not clarify the analysis of the problem. | Confusing description of the problem with few details. |

CS2/Element 6 | Presents a very well-organized plot, highly explained. | Present a clear and organized scheme, easy to understand. | Plot with enough data, but disorganized. | It presents an unclear plot, without coherence among the parts that compose it. |

CS3/Element 6-7 | It presents an outstanding and organized table-chart that meets the established cognitive skill without errors. | Table-plot meet the design cognitive skill proposed, with up to two errors. | Table-plot with simple structure, but well organized, with at least three errors. | Table-plot with not enough data. It does not meet the design of cognitive skills and has more than three errors. |

CS4/Element 8 | Excellent presentation and documentation of the results, in the established format. | It presents complete documentation with the correct format, but some details are missing. | Complete documentation, although it does not meet the requirements of the traditional format. | Incomplete documentation and given in the wrong format. |

Cognitive Skill | N total | Mean | SD | Minimum | Maximum |
---|---|---|---|---|---|

CS1 | 130 | 3.45 | 0.94 | 1.0 | 5 |

CS4 | 130 | 3.99 | 0.53 | 3.0 | 5 |

CS3 | 130 | 4.57 | 0.53 | 3.3 | 5 |

CS2 | 130 | 3.58 | 1.01 | 1.0 | 5 |

Total | 130 | 3.90 | 0.55 | 2.6 | 5 |

Case Study | N Total | Mean | SD | Minimum | Maximum |
---|---|---|---|---|---|

P1 | 130 | 4.04 | 0.47 | 3.1 | 5.0 |

P2 | 130 | 3.75 | 0.66 | 2.0 | 5.0 |

Cognitive Skills | MeanDiff | P | LCL | UCL |
---|---|---|---|---|

CS4/CS1 | 0.538 | 0.0307 | 0.036 | 1.040 |

CS3/CS1 | 1.114 | 3.2 × 10^{−7} | 0.612 | 1.616 |

CS3/CS4 | 0.576 | 0.0177 | 0.074 | 1.078 |

CS2/CS1 | 0.121 | 0.9228 | −0.381 | 0.623 |

CS4/CS2 | −0.417 | 0.1401 | −0.919 | 0.085 |

CS3/CS2 | −0.992 | 5.8 × 10^{−6} | −1.495 | −0.490 |

**Table 5.**T-Test to compare all the cognitive skills in the case study 1 and 2 (

**a**) CS1, argumentative claim; (

**b**) CS2, modeling; (

**c**) CS3, interpreting data/information; and (

**d**) CS4, organization.

(a) | (b) | ||||||||

N | Mean | SD | SE Mean | N | Mean | SD | SE Mean | ||

CS1-P1 | 130 | 3.58 | 0.88 | 0.15 | CS2-P1 | 130 | 3.59 | 0.99 | 0.17 |

CS1-P2 | 130 | 3.33 | 1.09 | 0.19 | CS2-P2 | 130 | 3.56 | 1.07 | 0.19 |

Difference = μ (CS1-P1) − μ (CS1-P2) | Difference = μ (CS2-P1) − μ (CS2-P2) | ||||||||

Estimate for difference: 0.24 | Estimate for difference: 0.030 | ||||||||

T-Value = 0.99 p-Value = 0.324 | T-Value = 0.12 p-Value = 0.905 | ||||||||

(c) | (d) | ||||||||

N | Mean | SD | SE Mean | N | Mean | SD | SE Mean | ||

CS3-P1 | 130 | 4.96 | 0.26 | 0.05 | CS4-P1 | 130 | 4.05 | 0.51 | 0.09 |

CS3-P2 | 130 | 4.18 | 0.97 | 0.17 | CS4-P2 | 130 | 3.94 | 0.57 | 0.10 |

Difference = μ (CS3-P1) − μ (CS3-P2) | Difference = μ (CS4 P1) − μ (CS4 P2) | ||||||||

Estimate for difference: 0.78 | Estimate for difference: 0.11 | ||||||||

T-Value = 4.43 p-Value = 0.000 | T-Value = 0.80 p-Value = 0.427 |

**Table 6.**Student's t-test to evaluate the effect of the software, (

**a**) two-sample T for P1 vs. P1-before, and (

**b**) two-sample T for P2 vs. P2-before.

(a) | (b) | ||||||||

N | Mean | SD | SE Mean | N | Mean | SD | SE Mean | ||

P1 | 130 | 4.04 | 0.61 | 0.11 | P2 | 130 | 3.75 | 0.89 | 0.16 |

P1-before | 130 | 3.74 | 0.68 | 0.12 | P2-before | 130 | 3.44 | 0.99 | 0.17 |

Difference = μ (P1) − μ (P1 before) | Difference = μ (P2) − μ (P2 before) | ||||||||

Estimate for difference: 0.30 T-Test of difference = 0(vs>): | Estimate for difference: 0.31 T-Test of difference = 0(vs>): | ||||||||

T-Value=1.92 p-Value = 0.03 | T-Value=1.92 p-Value = 0.094 |

Mass bar (kg) | ${\mathbf{T}}_{\mathbf{i}\mathbf{b}\mathbf{a}\mathbf{r}}\text{}(\xb0\mathbf{C})$ | $\mathbf{V}\mathbf{o}\mathbf{l}\text{}\left(\mathbf{L}\right)$ | ${\mathbf{T}}_{\mathbf{i}\mathbf{w}\mathbf{a}\mathbf{t}\mathbf{e}\mathbf{r}}\text{}(\xb0\mathbf{C})$ | ${\mathbf{T}}_{\mathbf{f}\mathbf{b}\mathbf{a}\mathbf{r}}\text{}(\xb0\mathbf{C})$ |
---|---|---|---|---|

5 | 1000 | 100 | 25 | 250 |

D (mm) | ${\mathit{P}}_{\mathit{i}\mathit{n}}\text{}\left(\mathbf{kPa}\right)$ | ${\mathit{v}}_{\mathit{o}\mathit{u}\mathit{t}}\text{}(\mathbf{m}/\mathbf{s})$ | ${\mathit{P}}_{\mathit{o}\mathit{u}\mathit{t}}\text{}\left(\mathbf{kPa}\right)$ | ${\mathit{T}}_{\mathit{p}\mathit{i}\mathit{p}\mathbf{e}}\text{}(\xb0\mathbf{C})$ | ${\mathit{T}}_{\mathit{e}\mathit{x}\mathit{t}}\text{}(\xb0\mathbf{C})$ | Steam Quality (out) |
---|---|---|---|---|---|---|

50 | 110 | 20 | 50 | 70 | 40 | 0.95 |

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## Share and Cite

**MDPI and ACS Style**

Biasi, M.R.D.; Valencia, G.E.; Obregon, L.G.
A New Educational Thermodynamic Software to Promote Critical Thinking in Youth Engineering Students. *Sustainability* **2020**, *12*, 110.
https://doi.org/10.3390/su12010110

**AMA Style**

Biasi MRD, Valencia GE, Obregon LG.
A New Educational Thermodynamic Software to Promote Critical Thinking in Youth Engineering Students. *Sustainability*. 2020; 12(1):110.
https://doi.org/10.3390/su12010110

**Chicago/Turabian Style**

Biasi, Miguel Romero Di, Guillermo Eliecer Valencia, and Luis Guillermo Obregon.
2020. "A New Educational Thermodynamic Software to Promote Critical Thinking in Youth Engineering Students" *Sustainability* 12, no. 1: 110.
https://doi.org/10.3390/su12010110