Effects of a thermal inversion experiment on stem students learning and application of damped harmonic motion

Omar Israel González-Peña*, Gustavo Morán-Soto, Rodolfo Rodríguez-Masegosa, Blas Manuel Rodríguez-Lara

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


There are diverse teaching methodologies to promote both collaborative and individual work in undergraduate physics courses. However, few educational studies seek to understand how students learn and apply new knowledge through open-ended activities that require mathematical modeling and experimentation focused on environmental problems. Here, we propose a novel home experiment to simulate the dynamics of a flue gas under temperature inversion and model it as damped harmonic motion. After designing and conducting the experiment, twenty six first year students enrolled in STEM majors answered six qualitative questions to inform us about their epistemological beliefs regarding their learning process. Their answers imply that this type of open-ended experiments may facilitate students’ understanding of physical phenomena and point to the significance of physics instructors as promoters of epistemological development. In general, students described this activity as a positive experience that helped them connect an environmental phenomenon with a fundamental physics concept.

Original languageEnglish
Article number919
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Building and Construction
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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