Spreadsheet Applications for Materials Science

Spreadsheet Applications for Materials Science Book Cover

Spreadsheet Applications for Materials Science

By Mike Meier

Status: on the back burner

Some years ago I got a grant funded by NSF that allowed me to try to develop spreadsheet-based course materials. The two main ideas behind this was that we could and should develop richer exercises to help teach materials science, or any subject. Most of what students are asked to do were basically word problems that involved algebra and calculus. That's a great place to start, but we have computers that we can use to take those to the next step, such as modeling. The second idea was that using spreadsheets requires the student to think differently, to think in terms of block of numbers, procedures, all the things programmers learn, but in this case the learning curve would be a lot easier and the software was already available on the student's computer.

A number of exercises were developed and used in the classroom. The results were excellent and students appreciated having been pushed to learn this new tool, and to learn it in a way that would help them in other courses.

The whole project, including the outcomes, is described here. This book, when and if it happens, will pick up from there and will include many more exercises, a number of which are already done but have not been tried out in the classroom.