Is the Shape of a Soda Can Truly Optimal?

Dr. Bernd Schroeder of Louisiana Tech University uses everyday soda cans to pose the calculus problem:

Is the Shape of a Soda Can Truly Optimal?

What's Your Everyday Example?

Sometimes we forget how much language, experience, and what is familiar, differ for people based on their age.

To remind professors just how wide the cultural divide in a classroom can be, each year Beloit College publishes a Mindset List, identifying experiences that have shaped the lives – and formed the mind set - of entering students. Items from the most recent lists include:

  • Google has always been there.
  • They have never really needed to go to their friend’s house so they could study together.
  • They have grown up treating Wi-Fi as an entitlement.
  • Cell phones have become so ubiquitous in class that teachers don’t know which students are using them to take notes and which ones are planning a party.
  • With GPS, they have never needed directions to get someplace, just an address.

How can you bridge the cultural divide in your classroom? In our last post, Why is the Statue of Liberty Blue-Green?, we shared Everyday Examples in Engineering (E³s) lesson plans that contain familiar, relatable examples for today's students.

Now YOU can join the ranks of faculty developing these plans to improve student engagement, increase retention, and improve your classroom evaluations! Create your own everyday examples that capture students’ attention, help them understand technical concepts, and make it easy to apply them in real-life contexts.

Where do I start?

E³s can be simple and effective. A good example is the most popular ENGAGE video demonstration, Dynamics: Free and Forced Vibrations Using a Simple Ruler.

Use the 5Es to organize the flow of your everyday example in the classroom.

  • Engage students to hold their attention
  • Explore a lesson topic
  • Explain a principle to students
  • Elaborate by using an example to demonstrate the principle
  • Evaluate a student’s understanding of the topic by extending it to other everyday examples

Check out these resources to help you develop your own everyday examples.  

And finally, share!

When you create your own everyday examples, share them with your colleagues as ENGAGE is sharing its E³s with you.