Using Excel to plot numerical and analytical forms of the diffusion equation
This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Exemplary Teaching Collection
Resources in this top level collection a) must have scored Exemplary or Very Good in all five review categories, and must also rate as “Exemplary” in at least three of the five categories. The five categories included in the peer review process are
- Scientific Accuracy
- Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
- Pedagogic Effectiveness
- Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
- Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page
For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.
This page first made public: Jun 29, 2010
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
- Translate word problems into equations.
- Recognize integral and differential forms of the conservation of mass equation.
- Define and use timescales to describe diffusive mass transport
- Write and understand Fick's Law for diffusive transport.
- Use simple computer programs (Excel & Matlab) to construct spreadsheet models, including the use of $ notation in Excel.
How the activity is situated in the course
Content/concepts goals for this activity
- Conceptualize mass transport via diffusion.
- Evaluate applicability and use of timescales for diffusive transport.
- Account for boundaries in systems with diffusion.
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
- Compare and contrast integral and differential forms of the conservation of mass equation.
- Improve understanding and methodology of numerical integration.
- Compare and contrast numerical integration and analytical solutions.
- Describe equations and numerical results in prose.
- Evaluate appropriateness of simplifying assumptions.
Other skills goals for this activity
- Interpret text descriptions of environmental systems and use quantitative tools to understand these systems.
- Use differential equations to describe environmental systems.
- Use simple computer programs (Excel or Matlab) to model environmental systems.
- Troubleshoot spreadsheets/m-files in these programs.
- Ask classmates and the instructor for assistance but not the answer.
Description of the activity/assignment
Determining whether students have met the goals
Download teaching materials and tips
- Activity Description/Assignment:Problem Statement (Acrobat (PDF) 24kB Jun17 10)
- Solution Set:Solution Set (Acrobat (PDF) 66kB Jun17 10)
- Sample Spreadsheet (Excel 1.4MB May25 10)